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

Katie Ramirez
January 12, 2019

China on Friday broadcast pictures taken by its rover and lander on the far side of the moon, in what its space programme hailed as another triumph for the groundbreaking mission.

China's space agency has said the mission "lifted the mysterious veil" from the far side of the moon, which is never seen from Earth, and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration".

"From the video, we can see more dust was thrown up when the Chang'e-4 touched down on the far side of the moon compared with the landing of Chang'e-3, which indicates that the lunar dust at the landing area of Chang'e-4 is thicker than the region where Chang'e-3 landed", said Zhang Hongbo, chief designer of the ground application system of Chang'e-4.

The lunar probe last week transmitted early images of its exploration on the far side, and the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has now released the first panoramic shot of its landing site.

Humanity has sent dozens of probes to the near side of the moon, however, Chang'e 4 is the first spacecraft to reach the far side, which is more hard due to communication problems stemming from the fact that an entire relay system is necessary in order to pass messages to mission control.

The image shows parts of the lander and its robotic rover as well as the pitted surface of the Von Kármán crater where it landed.

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The stunning 360-degree panoramic photos, taken by a camera mounted on the top of the lunar lander, were relayed to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Thursday. Since the Moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, the same side always faces Earth.

CNSA is using a relay satellite to send data back to Earth as the lander and rover survey the landscape and study the geology of the area.

Li said that one of the craters close to the rover Yutu-2 has a diameter of about 20 meters and a depth of about 4 meters.

He said the Chang'e-4 landed at an altitude of almost minus 6,000 meters.

CNSA also shared some intriguing panorama images from the crater, including a ring panorama centered around the lander.

"Researchers have completed the preliminary analysis of the lunar surface topography around the landing site based on the image taken by the landing camera", the CNSA said in a statement.

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