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China’s probe sends panoramic image of moon’s far side

Chinese Rover Wakes Up on Moon's Far Side After Lunar Nap China's Yutu 2 rover explores the far side of the moon shortly after its Jan. 2 2019 touchdown. Credit CNSA
Sandy Nunez | 11 January, 2019, 21:55

The picture shows the grey moonscape, the lander and the rover with the track marks it left behind.

A Chinese lunar probe, which landed on the far side of the Moon earlier in January this year, has sent first panoramic image of the Moon's dark side.

China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe has sent ultra-high definition and panoramic photos of the moon's dark side, after its historic January 3 soft-landing on the side that is always oriented away from Earth.

Several photos show the lunar rover Yutu-2 driving into the distance.

The Chang´e-4 probe is equipped with instruments developed by scientists from Sweden, Germany and China to study the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moon´s surface, Zhang Hongbo, chief designer of the ground application system, told state broadcaster CCTV.

The pictures were transmitted by a relay satellite to a control centre in Beijing, although it was not immediately clear when they were taken.

According to the Xinhua news agency one of the images is a 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander, citing Chunlai Li, the deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the Chang'e 4 ground application system.

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Many lunar orbiters had shown the moon's two sides were very different: the near side is relatively flat, while the far side is thickly dotted with impact craters.

"From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling", Li was quoted as saying. It is popularly called the "dark side" because it can't be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.

One of the craters close to the rover Yutu-2 has a diameter of about 20 meters and a depth of about 4 meters.

The rover, which had been put in "standby" mode to protect it from the Sun's heat, was then switched on and, along with the Chang'e-4 probe, took pictures of the landing site and its surroundings.

The deepest region on the moon, with a depth of 9,100 meters (5.7 miles), is about 700 kilometers (435 miles) to the south of the probe, Li said.

This is the first mission ever that aims to explore the Moon's far side from the surface.