On Wednesday night (Jan. 2), the Chang'e 4 rover and its stationary-lander companion pulled off the first-ever soft touchdown on the lunar far side, coming to a rest inside the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater. A photo posted online by China's space agency showed tracks left by the rover as it headed away from the spacecraft.
"Although this was one small step for the rover, I think it is one big step for the Chinese people", he said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, echoing the famous quote by U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969.
Lunar rover Yutu-2 has been driving on the far side of the moon after separating from the lander and scientific devices on both the lander and rover are now gathering data, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said late Friday.
"On behalf of Roscosmos State Corporation and on my own behalf, I want to congratulate you and the entire team of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on the successful launch of the Chang'e-4 mission - the first soft landing on the far side of the moon in the history of mankind", Rogozin said in a letter of congratulation published at Roscosmos's website.
Yutu 2 leaving track marks as it begins to explore the surface of the far side of the moon.
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Both Yutu 2 and the lander sport four science instruments, which they'll use to study the surrounding dirt and rocks and probe the far side's subsurface. Yutu-2 will enter a "napping" mode at an appropriate time and is expected to resume moving next Thursday.
This picture taken on December 8, 2018 shows a Long March 3B rocket, transporting the Chang'e-4 lunar rover, lifting off from the Xichang launch centre in Xichang in China's southwestern Sichuan province. "We Chinese people have done something that the Americans have not dared try."China plans to put astronauts on a lunar base in about 10 years".
The Chinese rover has six powered wheels, allowing it to continue to operate even if one wheel fails.
Chang'e-4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies - aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the moons' far side.