China’s probe sends panoramic image of Moon’s far side

This composite image made available by NASA in 2011 shows the far side of Earth’s moon.
NASA  Goddard  Arizona State University via AP  
AP

This composite image made available by NASA in 2011 shows the far side of Earth’s moon. NASA Goddard Arizona State University via AP AP

Included in the pictures is a 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander after it released the rover onto the lunar surface, Xinhua said, citing Li Chunlai, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the ground application system of Chang'e 4.

China is the first country to have successfully landed a probe on the moon's dark side - called so because it is never visible from Earth, as the moon's rotation is synchronised with its orbit around our planet.

The Chinese space agency says the spacecraft are in good working order after touching down on the lunar far side on 3 January.

Because the panorama was captured by the Chang'e 4 lander, it shows on the left the Yutu 2 rover, complete with the tire tracks left behind by the adventuring robot.

The scientific instruments aboard the probe worked well, and the images taken by the probe and the detection data have been sent back to ground control, it said.

The rover, which had been put in "standby" mode to protect it from the Sun's heat, was then switched on and, along with the Chang'e-4 probe, took pictures of the landing site and its surroundings.

Named after Chinese moon goddess "Chang'e", China's lunar exploration program, which began in 2004, includes orbiting and landing on the moon and bringing samples back to Earth.

Dark side of the Moon in motion.

The deepest region on the moon, with a depth of 9,100 meters (5.7 miles), is about 700 kilometers (435 miles) to the south of the probe, Li said.

However, until now, no signs of extraterrestrial activity was spotted by the Chang'e-4. "We have a responsibility to explore and to understand it. Exploration of the moon will also deepen our understanding of earth and ourselves", added Wu.

The Chinese space administration also released a 12-minute video of the spacecraft's landing, which can be seen below.

In contrast with previous images from the landing site, the panoramic image has been colour-corrected by Chinese researchers to better reflect the colours we would see if we were standing there.

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