Chinese lunar rover first to step on far side of the Moon

Yutu 2 leaving track marks as it begins to explore the surface of the far side of the moon

While the USA, Russia and China have all successfully landed spacecraft on the side of the moon that faces earth, China alone has just landed on the "far" or "dark" side.

After sending the rover off from a ramp, the spacecraft deployed three 5-metre low-frequency radio antennas, the Chinese space agency said. Previous landings, including one by China's Chang'e 3 in 2013, have been on the near side.

Lunar exploration chief Wu Weiren echoed Neil Armstrong's famous quote, telling state media the event marked a "huge stride" for China.

"With the communication assistance of the relay satellite Queqiao, the lander sent back the first-ever close-up photograph of the Moon's far side, opening a new chapter in lunar exploration". Yutu-2 will enter a "napping" mode at an appropriate time and is expected to resume moving next Thursday.

Both Yutu 2 and the lander sport four science instruments, which they'll use to study the surrounding dirt and rocks and probe the far side's subsurface. The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface.

China's space community is taking pride in the successful landing, which posed technical challenges because the moon blocks direct communication between the spacecraft and its controllers on Earth.

While China's space program still lags America's, He said "China has already positioned itself at least as good as Russian Federation and the European Union". "We Chinese people have done something that the Americans have not dared try."China plans to put astronauts on a lunar base in about 10 years".

The Yutu-2 rover has six wheels that all have power, so it can continue to operate even if one wheel fails. It has a maximum speed of 0.1 miles per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or mount an obstacle up to 8 inches tall, the report said.

"Since the far side of the moon is shielded from electromagnetic interference from the Earth, it's an ideal place to research the space environment and solar bursts, and the probe can "listen" to the deeper reaches of the cosmos", Tongjie Liu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center for the China National Space Administration, told CNN.

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