China moon rover 'Jade Rabbit' wakes from 'nap'

Mindy Sparks
January 11, 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 lunar probe has sent the first panoramic image of its landing site since its historic arrival on the far side of the moon, showing the cratered landscape it is exploring. The Chinese mission was to land on the side of the moon that is never seen from earth due to the moon rotation, a phenomenon called "tidal locking".

A rover dubbed Yutu-2 - or Jade Rabbit, the name of the moon goddess's pet - successfully separated from the lander and drove onto the moon's surface about eight hours after landing.

The landing site is a smooth plain within the crater Von Kármán on the moon's dark side.

Temperatures were expected to reach up to 200 degrees Celsius, but authorities from the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) said that the Yutu 2 rover, the lander and its relay satellite all survived the heat blast safely.

"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, indicating 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.

A camera deployed on Chang'e-4 took a photo that was released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) today.

This is the first time an attempt was made to explore the far side of the Moon.

Equipped with instruments developed by scientists from Sweden, Germany and, of course, China, the Chang'e-4 probe is set to study the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and interaction between solar wind and the moon's surface, Xinhua reported. A lunar radioisotope heater system contributed by Russian Federation now provides the vital power supply to the probe during the moon's long, frigid nights.

The ground station that China built in Argentina has played an important role in the monitoring and control of the mission, and ground stations run by the European Space Agency will also offer support.

The CNSA on Friday released several images taken by the Chang'e-4 probe transmitted back via the relay satellite Queqiao. "We hope to have more worldwide cooperation", said Wu Weiren.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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