Chang'e-4: Chinese rover now exploring Moon

The Yutu 2 rover moving farther across the moon's surface

The Yutu 2 rover moving farther across the moon's surface

Yutu 2 (also called Jade Rabbit 2) rolled off a ramp connected to the lander and began making tracks on the moon's soft soil surface at 10.22 p.m. Beijing time, about 12 hours after Chang'e 4 landed. "This giant leap is a decisive move for our exploration of space and the conquering of the universe".

"Although this was one small step for the rover, I think it is one big step for the Chinese people", he said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, echoing the famous quote by USA astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969.

The Yutu-2 rover. Image credit: CNSA.

The spacecraft landed at 0226 GMT on January 3 (9:26 p.m. EST on January 2) in the 110-mile-wide (180-kilometer) Von Karman crater, located in the southern hemisphere on the back side of the moon.

China's Chang'e-4 lander-rover spacecraft has landed on the moon's far side - the first in history.

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The successful landing formally inaugurated the world's first expedition to the far side and is expected to fulfil scientists' long-held aspiration to closely observe the enormous region. That side has been observed many times from lunar orbit, but never up close.

"I think this is very good evidence that we are now able to compete with the Americans", said energy company employee Yao Dajun. "It means our science and technology ability is getting stronger and the country is becoming more powerful". The spacecraft's instrument sweet will allow Chang'e-4 to measure the mineral composition of the moon's far side. "Probably after some years ordinary people like us can also travel up there to take a look", he said.

The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has six wheels that all have power, so it can continue to operate even if one wheel fails.

"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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