Published: Sat, January 12, 2019
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Yutu-2 rover reawakens after midday nap to continue Chang'e-4 objectives

Yutu-2 rover reawakens after midday nap to continue Chang'e-4 objectives

China just shared an image captured by its Chang'e 4 lunar lander, and it's a detailed image of the far side of the moon.

A camera deployed on Chang'e-4 took a photo that was released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) today.

A rover dubbed Yutu-2 - or Jade Rabbit, the name of the moon goddess's pet - successfully separated from the lander and drove onto the moon's surface about eight hours after landing.

Chinese astronomers have made a preliminary analysis of the terrain and landform surrounding the location of the probe and its Yutu rover, now near the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

This is the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the first Yutu rover mission on its Earth-facing side in 2013.

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The pictures on state broadcaster CCTV on Friday show the Jade Rabbit 2 rover and the Chang'e 4 spacecraft that transported it on the first-ever soft landing on the side of the moon, which always faces away from Earth.

The pictures show a rocky surface with the jagged edges of craters in the background, which will pose a challenge for controllers in plotting the rover's travels, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China's space agency has said the mission "lifted the mysterious veil" from the far side of the moon, which is never seen from Earth, and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration".

China uses a special satellite, called Queqiao, as the link between Chang'e 4 and Beijing.

"From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling", said Li.

The craters close to the rover - including one that was 20 meters wide (65 feet) with a depth of about four meters (13 feet) - will pose great challenges when planning its route, Li said. They are starting to gather observations on the lunar far side and should send science data back within the next few weeks, according to CNSA.

"The information from the depths of the moon will be one of our focuses in the exploration", said Li.

CNSA will also study the "Lunar Micro Ecosystem", which was previously installed on the Chang'e 4 lander.

The video, lasting about 12 minutes, shows the probe adjusted its altitude, hovered and avoided obstacles during the descent process.

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