China broad­casts space­craft pic­tures from moon’s far side

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - LIFE -

BEI­JING: China broad­cast Fri­day pic­tures taken by its rover and lan­der on the moon’s far side, in what its space pro­gram hailed as an­other tri­umph for the ground­break­ing mis­sion to the less-un­der­stood sec­tor of the lu­nar sur­face.

The pic­tures on state broad­caster CCTV showed the Jade Rab­bit 2 rover and the Chang’e 4 space­craft that trans­ported it on the first-ever soft land­ing on the far side of the moon, which al­ways faces away from Earth. The pic­tures were trans­mit­ted by a re­lay satel­lite to a con­trol cen­ter in Bei­jing, although it wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear when they were taken.

“The lan­der, its rover, and the re­lay satel­lite are all in a stable con­di­tion. They have reached the pre­de­ter­mined en­gi­neer­ing goals, right now they are get­ting into the stage of sci­en­tific searches,” Zhang Ke­jian, di­rec­tor of the China Na­tional Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said be­fore engi­neers at the Bei­jing cen­ter.

“Now I de­clare that the Chang’e 4 mis­sion, as a part of the Chang’e Lu­nar Ex­plo­ration Pro­gram, has been a suc­cess,” Zhang said.

Pic­tures trans­mit­ted back show a rocky sur­face with the jagged edge of craters in the back­ground, pos­ing a chal­lenge for con­trollers in plot­ting the rover’s fu­ture trav­els, the of­fi­cial Xin­hua News Agency said.

Among the im­ages is a 360de­gree panorama stitched to­gether from 80 pho­tos taken by a cam­era on the lan­der after it re­leased the rover onto the lu­nar sur­face, Xin­hua said, cit­ing Li Chun­lai, deputy di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Astro­nom­i­cal Ob­ser­va­to­ries of China and com­man­der-in-chief of the ground ap­pli­ca­tion sys­tem of Chang’e 4.

“From the panorama, we can see the probe is sur­rounded by lots of small craters, which was re­ally thrilling,” Li was quoted as say­ing.

The space ad­min­is­tra­tion also re­leased a 12-minute video of Chang’e 4’s land­ing uti­liz­ing more than 4,700 im­ages taken by an on­board cam­era. The probe is shown ad­just­ing its al­ti­tude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid ob­sta­cles on the ground.

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 birth of the uni­verse’s first stars.

The far side has been ob­served many times from lu­nar or­bits, but never ex­plored on the sur­face. It is pop­u­larly called the “dark side” be­cause it can’t be seen from Earth and is rel­a­tively un­known, not be­cause it lacks sun­light.

The pi­o­neer­ing land­ing high­lights China’s am­bi­tions to ri­val the U.S., Rus­sia and Europe in space through manned flights and the planned con­struc­tion of a per­ma­nent space sta­tion. –

This pic­ture re­leased by the China Na­tional Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion via CNS shows a 360 de­gree panoramic im­age made by China’s Chang’e-4 lu­nar probe on the far side of the moon.

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