Chang'e-4 probe takes panoramic photos on moon's far side

Chang'e-4 probe takes panoramic photos on moon's far side

China's space administration has released video showing its Chang'e-4 drone making history by touching down on the moon's far side.

Several new pictures shown on state broadcaster CCTV revealed the Jade Rabbit 2 rover and the Chang'e 4 spacecraft that transported it to the Moon. The machines took each other's portraits.

"The No. 4 mission is the first mission of the fourth phase of China's lunar exploration project", CNSA said in the press release. 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 Earth. The rover is powered by solar panels.

The first panorama from the dark side of the moon.

The picture shows the grey moonscape, the lander and the rover with the track marks it left behind. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon, but nobody had ever landed on it before. As the Moon is tidally locked to Earth - its rotation period roughly equals its orbital period - we only get to see one side of our satellite.

The panorama taken from the Chang'e 4 lander at its perch in Von Karman Crater and stitched together as a full-circle view.

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The scientific instruments aboard the probe worked well, and the images taken by the probe and the detection data have been sent back to ground control, it said.

Scientists have made a preliminary analysis on the terrains and landform surrounding the probe according to the panoramic pictures.

The probe's mission has been declared a complete success by the China National Space Administration.

CNSA will also study the "Lunar Micro Ecosystem", which was previously installed on the Chang'e 4 lander.

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.

"The information from the depths of the Moon will be one of our focuses in the exploration", Li said. The Chang'e 4 is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid craters and uneven surfaces before it lands.

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