China Lands on the Moon, Snaps Incredible Never-Before-Seen High-Definition Images

Stunning high-definition photographs of the far side of the Moon have been captured by China's lunar rover, Yutu-2. The images show the dusty lunar terrain pitted with craters, tracks made by Yutu-2 after descent from the Chang'e-4 lander, and Yutu-2's own shadow on the surface on the Moon. They were captured by the rover's panoramic camera , as it makes its way west from its landing site in the South Pole-Aitken basin - an impact crater on the far side of the Moon.

The South Pole-Aitken basin is of interest to scientists because it is believed that an ancient lunar impact may have exposed the Moon's mantle in this area. By studying this region, scientists hope to learn more about the early solar system and Earth, and demonstrate the feasibility of future human and robotic far side missions. Since landing on the moon in January , Chang'e-4 and Yutu-2 have been conducting science and exploration tasks in the Von Kármán crater.

The crater is believed to be composed of various chemical compounds, including thorium, iron oxide, and titanium dioxide, which could provide clues about the origin of the lunar mantle. Progress has been slow because both vehicles power down during lunar nights - a roughly 2-week period each month - when their location is in darkness.

The rover is also required to take intermittent "naps" - brief periods of hibernation - because of the daytime's brutal temperatures, which soar to 200 degrees centigrade. Despite this, however, Chang’e 4's mission has already greatly exceeded expectations, according to the  Planetary Society .

The rover and lander were only initially designed to last about three lunar days, but when they wake up from their current hibernation on April 28 they will be going on their fifth lunar day. The rover has covered 178.9 meters since deployment from the Chang'e-4 lander, carefully navigating the area in order to approach and analyse specimens with its visible and infrared spectrometer.

Some environment modelling will be required to put this data into context, but scientists reportedly expect to have publishable results in the next month or so.

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