Far side of the moon: China's lunar probes take pictures of each other

January 11, 2019

New photographs from the far side of the moon have shown China's lunar probes taking pictures of each other.

The images show the lunar rover Jade Rabbit 2 after it was pictured by the explorer Chang'e 4, and vice versa.

According to the Chinese space agency, the spacecrafts are working well after landing on the far side of the moon on 3 January.

Among other images released is a 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander after it released the rover on to the lunar surface.

Just 12 hours after landing, the rover drove off onto the surface of the Earth's primary satellite.

"It's a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation," Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China's lunar exploration project, told state television.

"This giant leap is a decisive move for our exploration of space and the conquering of the universe," he added.

The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has six wheels and is powered for six-wheel drive, so even if wheels fail, others will independently continue, state media reported.

According to machine translation, the Chinese lunar exploration programme (CLEP) stated: "The Chinese and foreign scientific loads were working normally, and the detection data was valid.

"It is said that the scientific experiment project carried out smoothly and reached the established goal of the project, marking the successful completion of the mission."

Colour imbalances in the detectors used by the probe to take the first images made the surface look red as they were less sensitive to other wavelengths of light.

The rover can drive at a maximum speed of 200 metres (220 yards) per hour, and climb up slopes of up to 20 degrees and navigate over obstacles 20cm (8in) tall.

The probe, containing a lander and a rover, was launched on a Long March 3B rocket from Xichang in the south of the country on 8 December.

Chang'e 4 and its three predecessors were named after a Chinese goddess, who legend says has lived on the moon for thousands of years.

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