World Chinese probe makes historic landing on moon’s far side
A Chinese probe made the first-ever soft landing by a spacecraft on the far side of the moon on Thursday, the latest step in the country’s ambitious space program, state-run media reported.
The Chang’e-4, consisting of a lander and a rover, touched down at 10:26 a.m. Beijing time, the China National Space Administration announced, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Shortly after the landing, the probe successfully sent back to Earth the first photo of the “dark side” of the moon, local media said.
The probe was launched by a Long March-3b carrier rocket from China’s southwestern province of Sichuan on Dec. 8 and spent about three weeks in orbit around the moon.
The lunar explorer will survey the mineral composition on the far side of the moon, which faces away and cannot be observed from Earth.
The unmanned probe -- named after the Chinese moon goddess Chang’e -- is also expected to study the surface structure and the environment of that part of the astronomical body.
As neither the lander nor the rover can communicate directly with ground stations, China already launched a relay satellite last year.
In 2013, Chang’e-4’s predecessor, Chang’e-3, touched down on the near side of the moon.
The Chinese leadership led by President Xi Jinping has pledged to accelerate efforts to make the country a “strong space power.” – Kyodo