A Chinese Spacecraft Has Landed On The Dark Side Of The Moon

A Chinese Spacecraft Has Landed On The Dark Side Of The Moon

A Chinese Spacecraft Has Landed On The Dark Side Of The Moon

Lunar rover Yutu-2 has been driving on the far side of the moon after separating from the lander and scientific devices on both the lander and rover are now gathering data, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said late Friday.

Top officials of the Chinese Space Program have come out this week and expressed their skepticism that the American Moon landings ever happened, reports the Beijing Daily Express.

The rover, which weighs around 300 pounds, will explore the surrounding area of the far side of the moon, never before traversed. Although the dark side of the moon isn't always technically dark, it is largely unknown to scientists, and its composition is different than that on its near side.

Chang'e 4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies, which aim to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side.

It's also a major first step for China's future lunar missions and bigger space ambitions.

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China's space community is taking pride in the successful landing, which posed technical challenges because the moon blocks direct communication between the spacecraft and its controllers on Earth.

In May, a relay satellite "Queqiao", or "Magpie Bridge", named after an ancient Chinese folk tale, was launched to provide communications support between Chang'e 4 and Earth. Previous landings, including one by China's Chang'e 3 in 2013, have been on the near side.

During the lunar day, also lasting 14 Earth days, temperatures soar as high as 127 C (261 F).

Four billion miles past the moon, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft photographed Ultima Thule, the furthest world yet explored by humankind, as the New Year rang in. Yutu 2 has already put a fair bit of space between itself and the lander, trundling over near the rim of a small crater on the floor of Von Kármán, which itself lies within an even larger impact feature - the 1,550-mile-wide (2,500 km) South Pole-Aitken Basin.

If all goes well, China plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe there next year and more robotic missions including a crewed space mission in the following years.

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