China's Chang'e spacecraft is first to land on far side of the moon

China got there first.

    2019/01/07

NSFW    MOON — China's lunar probe has made history as the first spacecraft to touch down on the far side of the moon.

Xinhua reports that the Chang'e 4 lunar craft lifted off from the Xichang Satellite launch center in Sichuan province on December 8, carrying a lander and a rover. It entered lunar orbit four days later.

At 10:26 a.m. local Beijing time on January 3, the spacecraft landed in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, the moon's largest and oldest impact crater.

According to CNN, the rover separated from the lander on several hours after touchdown, and is expected to roam and explore the Von Karman crater.

According to Space.com, the six-wheeled rover is equipped with a panoramic camera and a visible and near-Infrared imaging spectrometer.

The lander is outfitted with a landing camera, terrain camera, and a low-frequency spectrometer. It will conduct low-frequency radio astronomy observations and see whether plants can grow in the low-gravity environment. It will also explore whether there is water or other resources at the poles.

The New York Times reports that the probe has sent back the first close-up image of the moon's far side back to Earth using the relay satellite Queqiao.

China's future space missions include sending a Chang'e 5 spacecraft to the moon next year that will return to Earth with samples, according to the Washington Post. A crewed mission is also in the works and slated for the early 2030s.
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