Chinese rover 'Jade Rabbit' drives on far side of the moon

Yutu-2 China's lunar rover leaves wheel marks after leaving the lander that touched down on the surface of the far side of the moon. — AP

Photos show Chinese rover making tracks on the far side of the moon

There had been no confirmation as to exactly what time it will touch down, but state-run China Daily reported (via BBC News) that the Chang'e-4 would start descending on its thrusters sometime between January 2 to 3.

Launched on Dec 8, 2018, China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe, comprising a lander and a rover, landed on the far side of the moon Thursday morning.

The craft's rover, called Yutu 2, has started to make its way across the lunar surface.

On Wednesday night (Jan. 2), the Chang'e 4 rover and its stationary-lander companion pulled off the first-ever soft touchdown on the lunar far side, coming to a rest inside the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his congratulations to the Chinese lunar mission team. The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface.

The ground control has been receiving geographic and geomorphic images of the moon's far side.

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"We are building China into a space giant", Dr. Wu said in his televised remarks.

The rover, also known as Jade Rabbit 2, has six powered wheels, so it can keep working even if one fails, according to The Associated Press.

"It's a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation", Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project, told state broadcaster CCTV, in a twist of USA astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous comment when he became the first human to walk on the moon in 1969. It has a maximum speed of 200 metres per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20cm tall.

The rover Chang'e-4, which is named after the moon goddess in Chinese mythology, landed at 10:26 a.m. Beijing time in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, which is an impact crater, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Chang'e 4's images and data come home via a relay satellite called Queqiao, which is parked at a gravitationally stable spot beyond the moon.

China has chosen the name "Yutu-2", or Jade Rabbit-2, for its new moon rover, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced late Thursday.

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