Chinese spacecraft becomes first EVER to touch down on dark side of the moon as it transmits never-before-seen ‘close range’ images after making historic landing

Thursday, January 3, 2019
By Paul Martin

A Chinese spacecraft called Chang’e 4 has successfully made the first landing on the far side of the moon
The lunar explorer touched down at 10.26am (2.26am GMT) local time in the Aitken basin’s Von Karman crater
The mission communicates with Earth via a relay satellite known as the Queqiao which launched in May
Moon’s Von Karman crater is at its south pole and is 1,600 miles across and eight miles deep

3 January 2019

A Chinese spacecraft has made the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon as it transmitted a never-before-seen image of the unexplored surface.

Lunar explorer Chang’e-4 touched down at 10.26am local time (2.26am GMT), state media reported, and took the ‘close range’ photograph in a global first.

While stationed on the moon, the Chang’e-4 will attempt to recce the famous Von Karman crater in the Aitken basin, the largest impact crater in the entire solar system at eight miles (13 km) deep and 1,600 miles (2,500 km) in diameter.

It will also be tasked with carrying out mineral and radiation tests, presenting scientists with the first-ever chance to examine materials from the far side of the moon.

The far side of the moon – colloquially known as the dark side – actually gets as much light as the near side but always faces away from Earth. This is because 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 our planet.

This relatively unexplored region is mountainous and rugged, making a successful landing much harder to achieve.

It appears to take on a reddish hue in some of the images released by China, according to Christopher Conselice, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham who said it is an effect from the lights used on the mission.

The pioneering landing demonstrates China’s growing ambitions to rival the US as a space power, with Beijing hoping to send another probe next year that will retrieve samples and bring them back to Earth.

Images, footage and information regarding the Chang’e-4 mission were scarce prior to the announcement from the China National Space Administration (CNSA) of a successful landing due to the nation’s quest to beat the US, Europe and Russia to the landmark achievement.

Footage later emerged of the landing after it was spotted playing inside the control room by an eagle-eyed onlooker – but was not live streamed to the public by the secretive space agency.

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