China release new images of the far side of the moon

"The other side of the Moon" Photographed by the Chinese lander Chang'e 4. Credits : CNSA

Images taken by the Chang’e 4 lander and it’s rover have recently been released by the Chinese National Space Administration.  These images show a clear view of the far side of the moon that has never been explored until now.  

You’ll have certainly heard recently that China are now exploring the hidden side of the Moon as it only ever shows one side of it’s surface to Earth.  This unique lunar landing will allow us to learn more about lunar formation and the Big Bang, as well as help us to understand – among other things – water distribution on the Moon.  This is essential research if one day we want to establish a permanent base on the moon. While they are waiting for the first analysis to come back, the Chinese National Space Administration has recently shared two new images of the Moon’s surface, which were released on the national television channel CCTV.

The photograph below was taken by the Change’ 4 lander and the other photograph was taken by the rover (Yutu-2) which were shared by The Guardian.

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[Swipe for full effect] When you look up at the full moon, you only ever see one face, but scientists believe that the far side, eternally hidden from view, may hold the key to fundamental mysteries about the moon’s formation. Last week, a Chinese spacecraft made history by becoming the first to land on the far side of the moon. Today, China shared pictures showing a rocky surface with the jagged edges of craters in the background. Among the images is this 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos. Researchers hope that low-frequency observations of the cosmos from the far side of the moon, where radio signals from Earth are blocked, will help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and the birth of the universe’s first stars. The pioneering landing also highlights China’s ambitions to rival the US, Russia and Europe with its space programme. Photo: CNSA

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« Everything is happening as planned »

The images show us that the surface is covered with craters.  This makes it a real challenge for the rover which, for the time being, is getting on well. “Researchers have finished the initial analysis of the lunar surface topography based on photographs taken by the camera around the site of the lunar lander,” noted the Chinese Administration.  The Change’ e-4 probe and rover as well as the Quegiao satellite have been given the task of relaying information back to Earth.  The spokesperson from the Chinese Administration confirmed that “all are in a stable condition and the programmes are working as planned.” They added that “the mission is now going to start the scientific exploration stage.”

In a few weeks, there will also be talks of “sowing some small seeds” on the moon. The idea is to use the Chang’ e 4 probe positioned on the Von Karman crater.  This crater, found in the bowl of the Aitken South Pole, is not only the greatest impact crater known in the solar system but it is also one of the sunniest places on the moon. The robot has everything that it needs, or at least we hope, to grow some potatoes and even plant some Arabidopsis plants.

The idea is to have the opportunity to study the behaviour of these organisms in lunar gravity conditions. In the long run, China is looking to be able to install a permanent lunar station in the next ten years.  So as to avoid expensive return trips to and from Earth, the ideal situation would be to to grow food directly on site.  This is why the robots are interested in this unprecedented concept.


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