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China rover lands on the dark side of the moon

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China’s historic mission to the dark side of the moon has successfully deployed its rover on the lunar surface. 

Lunar explorer Chang’e-4 touched down at 10.26am local time (2.26am GMT), state media reported, and soon after beamed back the first ever image of the ‘dark side’ of the moon.

It then released a rover, Yutu-2, which rolled out onto the lunar surface. 

While stationed on the moon, the Chang’e-4 will attempt to recce the famous Von Karman crater in the Aitken basin, the largest impact crater in the entire solar system at eight miles (13 km) deep and 1,600 miles (2,500 km) in diameter. 

A never-before-seen ‘close range’ image taken by the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e-4 of the surface of the far side of the moon. It appears to take on a reddish hue in some of the images released by China, an effect of the lights used by the probe
Hours later, this image of the craft’s rover, called Yutu-2, after it rolled out onto the lunar surface was released. Its scientific instruments include a panoramic camera, ground-penetrating radar, and instruments to identify the chemical makeup of the lunar surface.

It will also be tasked with carrying out mineral and radiation tests, presenting scientists with the first-ever chance to examine materials from the far side of the moon.

The far side of the moon – colloquially known as the dark side – actually gets as much light as the near side but always faces away from Earth. 

This is because the moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side – or the ‘dark side’ – is never visible from our planet.

This relatively unexplored region is mountainous and rugged, making a successful landing much harder to achieve. 

It appears to take on a reddish hue in some of the images released by China, according to Christopher Conselice, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham who said it is an effect from the lights used on the mission.   

The pioneering landing demonstrates China’s growing ambitions to rival the US as a space power, with Beijing hoping to send another probe next year that will retrieve samples and bring them back to Earth. 

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