China moon machines snap striking pictures of each other

Pat Wise
January 12, 2019

The 308-pound rover, part of China's Chang'e-4 mission, initially went on a standby mode on Saturday to protect itself from the heat on the moon's surface, which can reach upwards of 390 degrees Fahrenheit, the Chinese space agency's China Lunar Exploration Program explained in a statement.

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

The mission sent the first panoramic image of its landing site Friday, showing the grey moonscape it is exploring and the track marks left by the rover in the lunar soil.

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Li said that one of the craters close to the rover Yutu-2 has a diameter of about 20 meters and a depth of about 4 meters. The other face, most of which can not be seen from Earth, is called the far side or dark side of the Moon, not because it is dark, but because most of it is uncharted.

China on Friday hailed its historic mission to the far side of the moon as a "complete success" so far but said new challenges await its rover as it explores rugged terrain.

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CNSA is using a relay satellite to send data back to Earth as the lander and rover survey the landscape and study the geology of the area.

The mission consists of two robots: the Chang'e 4 lander and the Yutu 2 rover.

The space administration also released a 12-minute video of Chang'e 4's landing, made up of more than 4,700 images taken by an onboard camera. The Chang'e 4 is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid craters and uneven surfaces before it lands. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon, but nobody had ever landed on it before.

"The thicker dust shows that the lunar regolith in the region has undergone longer space weathering, which also gives strong evidence of the region being older".

As a result of the tidal locking effect, the moon's revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle. "We will conduct comparative research between the landing areas of Chang'e-3 and Chang'e-4", Li said.

The SPA Basin, where the Chang'e-4 probe landed, is the largest and deepest basin in the solar system, with a diameter of 2,500 km and a depth of more than 10 km. The exploration might offer clues as to why the bombardment occurred, said Zou.

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