China's probe makes historic landing on dark side of moon

China's probe makes historic landing on dark side of moon

Chang'e-4, a lunar probe, made a soft landing at 2.26am GMT and trasmitted the first ever "close-range" image of the far side of Earth's satellite.

Media outlet China Daily later confirmed the success of the mission when it announced on Twitter that, "China's Chang'e 4 landed on the moon's far side, inaugurating a new chapter in mankind's lunar exploration history". The Chang'e 4 entered the lunar orbit four days later after its launch, South China Morning Post reported.

Unlike the face of the moon that you and I can see plain as night from down here, the far side of the moon is largely never visible from the Earth's surface, and is filled with cavernous craters and jagged mountains, making exploration of it near-impossible before today.

It is not the first time the system has been deployed to take sharp photos of the moon's surface: It was first used in 2013 on the Chang'e-3, which landed on the moon's Mare Imbrium crater.

Chang'e 4 had touched down on the surface at 10:26 a.m., the China National Space Administration said.

The mission highlights China's growing ambitions to rival the U.S., Russian Federation and Europe in space, and more broadly, to cement its position as a regional and global power.

It was previously one of only three other countries - along with the USA and the former Soviet Union - to land on the moon's Earth-facing side. In contrast to other unmanned lunar expeditions by the U.S., Russia, the European Space Agency and India, the Chinese Chang'e 4 was a controlled landing on the far side of the moon.

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The probe, which has a lander and a rover, will conduct surveys on terrain, mineral composition and other environmental qualities in collaboration with countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

'The probe will provide important information for studying the origin of stars and nebula evolution'.

China has released the first pictures ever seen of the surface of the far side of the Moon.

Just as promised since the end of past year, the Chinese Chang'e-4 lander and rover descended to the surface of the Moon, on the side it never shows to us, marking the first time a human-made machine arrived there.

China launched the Chang'e-4 probe earlier this month, carried by a Long March-3B rocket.

The Chang'e series of Chinese spacecraft is named for a moon goddess, but Queqiao means "magpie bridge", from a myth about those birds forming a path to the moon. While scarce on Earth, previous observations of the far side from crewed and person-free craft make it likely a large amount is present.

A major challenge for such a mission was communicating with the robotic lander, as there is no direct "line of sight" for signals to the far side of the moon.

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