China’s lunar rover drives smoothly on moon’s far side

Photos show Chinese rover making tracks on the far side of the moon

China has chosen the name "Yutu-2", or Jade Rabbit-2, for its new moon rover, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced late Thursday.

Researchers hope that low-frequency observations of the cosmos from the far side, where radio signals from Earth are blocked by the moon, will help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and even the birth of the universe's first stars.

Unlike the near side of the moon, which offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

The moon was first visited by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969, and the US, the former Soviet Union, and China have all landed spacecraft on its surface in the years since.

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. Overall, Chang'e 4 is the second Chinese probe to make a soft landing on the Moon, following the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover mission in 2013.

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A Chinese lunar rover landed on the far side of the moon Thursday, a global first that boosts Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower.

"Congratulations to China's Chang'e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the moon", he posted on Twitter.

China's mission is to learn more about the little-understood region of the moon and compete with the United States and Russian Federation as a powerhouse of space exploration.

"This space mission shows that China has reached the advanced world-class level in deep space exploration", Zhu Menghua, a professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology who has worked closely with China's space administration, told The New York Times. The far side can't be seen from Earth and is popularly called the "dark side" because it is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight. It can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 8 inches tall.

"The surface is soft and it is similar to that when you are walking on the snow".

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