A Chinese lunar rover made the first-ever landing on the dark side of the moon on Thursday January 3rd, in an unprecedented step that boosts Beijing's ambitions to become a space superpower.
As reported by AFP, the Chang'e-4 probe touched down at 10:26 am Beijing time (0226 GMT) and sent a photo of the far side of the moon to the Queqiao satellite, which relays communications to controllers on Earth, state broadcaster CCTV said.
The Chang’e-4 lunar probe mission launched last December from the south-western Xichang launch centre.
Unlike the near side of the moon that always faces the earth and offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side, also known as the dark side, is mountainous and rugged.
The Chang'e-4 probe is carrying six experiments from China and four from abroad, and includes low-frequency radio astronomical studies, aiming to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side. The rover will also conduct mineral and radiation tests, the China National Space Administration said according to state news agency Xinhua.
Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans to the moon.