China broadcasts spacecraft pictures from moon's far side

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This handout picture taken by the Chang'e-4 probe and released to AFP by China National Space Administration on January 3, 2019 shows an image of the "dark side" of the moon.

The Moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown, with a different composition from sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.

The mission consists of two robots: the Chang'e 4 lander and the Yutu 2 rover.

Among the images 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.

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CNSA said the Chang'e 4, the Yutu No. 2 patrol, and the "Yuqiao" relay star were reported to be in stable condition, after they safely landed on the far side of the moon on January 3.

In a press release, CNSA said their Chang'e 4 mission was a success, and thanked "significant global cooperation", for their major space milestone.

The craters close to the rover - including one that was 20 meters wide (65 feet) with a depth of about four meters (13 feet) - will pose great challenges when planning its route, Li said.

These images were sent back via the relay satellite Queqiao, which was operating around the second Lagrangian point of the earth-moon system, about 455,000 kilometers from earth, where it can see both celestial bodies.

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He said the Chang'e-4 landed at an altitude of almost minus 6,000 metres.

"The information from the depths of the Moon will be one of our focuses in the exploration", Li said.

The space administration also released a 12-minute video of Chang'e 4's landing utilizing more than 4,700 images taken by an on-board camera. Its first unprocessed images made the moon look quite reddish, but the familiar gray of the moon is clearly seen in the exciting panorama shot.

The moon's surface on this side is thicker and more pitted than the familiar earth facing side.

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"We hope Chang'e-4 could carry out unprecedented and more challenging tasks", said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar exploration program.

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