Lunar rover leaves first 'footprint' on Moon's far side

Lunar rover leaves first 'footprint' on Moon's far side

Lunar rover leaves first 'footprint' on Moon's far side

China's Chang'e-4 probe has released its rover Yutu 2 to explore the far side of the moon after making the historic touchdown on the moon's uncharted side on Thursday.

The head of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, Thursday congratulated the Chinese colleagues on the successful landing of the Chang'e-4 probe.

A major challenge for such a mission was communicating with the robotic lander, because there is no direct line of sight for signals to the far side of the moon.

"We are pleased that the power equipment of the Chang'e-4 mission is supplied by radioisotope sources of electricity produced in Russian Federation", he said. After receiving the order, Yutu-2, atop the spacecraft, extended its solar panel, stretched out its mast and started to drive slowly to the transfer mechanism, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

"We hope Yutu-2 can make its exploration with no fear and have a more stable, wide and long journey", said the CNSA in a statement. Previous moon landings have been on the near side. It has a maximum speed of 200 metres per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20cm tall.

The landing highlights China's growing ambitions as a space power.

Top officials of the Chinese Space Program have come out this week and expressed their skepticism that the American Moon landings ever happened, reports the Beijing Daily Express.

China plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe to the moon next year and have it return to Earth with samples - the first time that will have been done since 1976.

Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission - named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology - was the second Chinese probe to land on the moon following the Yutu rover mission in 2013.

Every semester, Purdue University lunar and planetary scientist Jay Melosh demonstrates how the far side gets light using a bright light as the sun and students playing the roles of the moon and the Earth.

The far side is often referred to as the "dark side" because it can not be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown.

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