China on Friday (January 11) announced that the Chang'e-4 mission, the first-ever probe to land on the Moon's dark side, was a "complete success" as it transmitted images back to earth through a special relay satellite, according to a PTI report. "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 centre. The photos reveal a seemingly endless horizon of grey, rocky terrain.
The image shows parts of the lander and its robotic rover as well as the pitted surface of the Von Kármán crater where it landed. Now, with its rover exploring the hidden side of the Moon for the first time, the country is declaring the mission a success, and it's shared some new images to boot.
Like this story? Share it with a friend! Since the Moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, the same side always faces Earth.
"From the panorama, we could see the probe was surrounded by many small craters".
The craters close to the rover - including one that was 20 meters wide (65 feet) with a depth of about 4m - will pose great challenges when planning its route, Li said.
Unlike the near side of the moon that offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.
The lunar probe last week transmitted early images of its exploration on the far side, and the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has now released the first panoramic shot of its landing site.
"The No. 4 mission is the first mission of the fourth phase of China's lunar exploration project", CNSA said in a translated statement.
Yutu-2 is set to rover to the front side of the lander and return an image of the craft, like that taken by its predecessor Yutu for the Chang'e-3 mission above, before continuing to explore using its suite of science instruments.
The scientists of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter of NASA have also cooperated with Chang'e-4 mission team to study the landing of the Chang'e-4 probe, according to the CNSA.
The deepest region on the moon, with a depth of 9,100m, is about 700km to the south of the probe, Li said.
The video, lasting about 12 minutes, showed that the probe adjusted its altitude, hovered and avoided obstacles during the descent.
Scientists have said the far side is a key area for solving several unknowns about the moon, including its internal structure and thermal evolution.