"Unexplored!" --China Releases First Photos of Moon's Far Side

China moon rover Jade Rabbit,China moon rover,moon rover

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. The photos reveal a seemingly endless horizon of grey, rocky terrain.

Video has been released showing the Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, making a "soft landing" on the moon at 0226 GMT on January 3.

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

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Scientists have said the far side is a key area for solving several unknowns about the moon, including its internal structure and thermal evolution.

Despite being known as the "dark" side, the non-visible side of the moon receives just as much daylight as the earth facing side.

Transmitted from a relay satellite to a control centre in Beijing, the pictures were first aired by state broadcaster CCTV.

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Chinese media revealed that the Yutu took a "nap" after solar radiation raised the temperature on the lunar surface to more than 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit) before it rebooted itself on Thursday when the dark side's surface cooled after sunset.

"From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling", said Li. Since the Moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, the same side always faces Earth.

"The information from the depths of the Moon will be one of our focuses in the exploration", Li said.

The rover, which had been put in "standby" mode to protect it from the Sun's heat, was then switched on and, along with the Chang'e-4 probe, took pictures of the landing site and its surroundings.

The video, lasting about 12 minutes, shows the probe adjusted its altitude, hovered and avoided obstacles during the descent process.

"The thicker dust shows that the lunar regolith in the region has undergone longer space weathering, which also gives strong evidence of the region being older".

Wu Weiren, CLEP's chief designer, added that "it was a great challenge with the short time, high difficulty and risks".

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