Chinese lunar rover first to step on far side of the Moon

Yutu 2 leaving track marks as it begins to explore the surface of the far side of the moon

China's lunar rover has left the first-ever "footprint" on the far side of the moon, officials said Friday, hours after the robotic spacecraft successfully soft-landed on the mysterious and previously unexplored region of the Earth's satellite.

"This space mission shows that China has reached the advanced world-class level in deep space exploration", Zhu Menghua, a professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology who has worked closely with China's space administration, told The New York Times.

What do you think of China's plans to expand further into space exploration?

Chang'e 4 is the first craft to make a soft landing on the moon's far side, which faces away from Earth.

"Although this was one small step for the rover, I think it is one big step for the Chinese people", he said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, echoing the famous quote by USA astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969.

China's Yutu 2 rover moving across the far side of the moon.

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Chang'e-4 lunar probe mission - named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology - was the second Chinese probe to land on the moon following the Yutu rover mission in 2013. With the help of ground-penetrating radar, it will allow scientists to study the moon's mysterious "dark side", how its surface interacts with solar wind, and perhaps the process behind the formation of lunar water. Both China's space community and public have taken pride in the accomplishment, with some drawing comparisons to the US.

Chang'e-4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies - aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the moons' far side.

While China's space program still lags America's, He said "China has already positioned itself at least as good as Russian Federation and the European Union".

The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has six wheels that all have power, so it can continue to operate even if one wheel fails.

This picture taken on December 8, 2018 shows a Long March 3B rocket, transporting the Chang'e-4 lunar rover, lifting off from the Xichang launch centre in Xichang in China's southwestern Sichuan province.

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