Chinese rover makes tracks on moon's 'dark' side

Chinese rover makes tracks on moon's 'dark' side

After touching down, the Chang'e 4 probe sent a photo of the far side to the Queqiao satellite, which is relaying communications to controllers on Earth, state broadcaster CCTV said.

"The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth", mission spokesman Yu Guobin said, according to Xinhua. Named after a Chinese moon goddess, the spacecraft comprises a lander and a rover.

The far side of the moon is more rugged than the near side, so Chinese officials adjusted the descent trajectory for the Chang'e 4 mission to a more vertical profile from the curved profile used on Chang'e 3, China's previous lunar lander which touched down on the near side in 2013.

Yutu-2, atop the probe, extended its solar panel, stretched out its mast and started to slowly fly to the lunar surface Thursday night.

As announced by the CNSA, the Jadehase 2 robotic vehicle will explore the Moon's geological composition and make biological experiments. It can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 8 inches tall.

Jadehase 2 has six independent drive wheels and can travel up to 200 meters per hour. Chinese state television talked about a historic day.

Several high-ranking members of the Chinese Communist Party even stated publicly that these latest findings proved without a doubt that the Moon landings were an "elaborately orchestrated hoax to fool the world about America's space program capabilities".

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. The country aims to land a crewed flight on the moon in the coming decade.

Since the moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, the same side always faces the Earth. It is popularly called the "dark side" because it can't be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight. By comparison, NASA's Opportunity rover on Mars weighs about 181 kilogrammes, and the Curiosity rover there is much bigger, at 908 kilogrammes.

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