China has landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon in a world first, according to state-run media. The unmanned Chang’e-4 lander and rover successfully arrived in the Von Karman crater, which is within the South Pole-Aitken Basin, at 10:26am Beijing time on Thursday, according to Chinese broadcaster CGTN.
After it touched down, the spacecraft took the first photo of what is widely known as the “dark side” of the moon, and sent it back to earth via the Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) satellite. The satellite which launched last May is orbiting the second Lagrangian point of the Earth-Moon system.
Now it has landed, the Chang’e-4 is tasked with collecting data on the far side of the moon, including on the structure of its surface, mantle, as well as its minerals, according to CGTN. It will also carry out low-frequency astronomical observations because it is shielded from radio interference.
The Aitken Basin where Chang’e-4 is located measures 2,500 kilometers in diameter and is 13 kilometers deep, making it the “largest, deepest and oldest basin on the moon” and “one of the largest impact craters in the Solar System,” Andrew Coates, professor of physics at UCL, London, told BBC News. Read more