Chinese rover makes tracks on moon's 'dark' side

The Yutu 2 rover moving farther across the moon's surface

The Yutu 2 rover moving farther across the moon's surface

"This space mission shows that China has reached the advanced world-class level in deep space exploration", Zhu Menghua, a professor at the Macau University of Science and Technology who has worked closely with China's space administration, told The New York Times.

While China is the first to land a spacecraft on the far side, there have been plenty of detailed photographs taken by orbiting spacecraft.

This close-up photo taken by the Chang'e-4 probe shows the far side of the Moon.

"Although this was one small step for the rover, I think it is one big step for the Chinese people", he said in an interview with state broadcaster CCTV, echoing the famous quote by U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969. When there's a full moon in our sky, the far side is dark.

"Lunar rover Yutu-2 or Jade Rabbit-2, left the first-ever "footprint" from a human spacecraft on the far side of the moon late at night on Thursday, after it separated from the lander smoothly", state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

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Yutu 2 leaving track marks as it begins to explore the surface of the far side of the moon.

China's space community is taking pride in the successful landing, which posed technical challenges because the moon blocks direct communication between the spacecraft and its controllers on Earth.

The U.S. Congress has banned NASA from working with China on space exploration because of national security concerns. Previous moon landings have been on the near side.

China's space programme lags America's, but has made great strides in the past 15 years, including manned flights and a space laboratory that is seen as a precursor to plans for a space station.

The Yutu-2 rover has six wheels that all have power, so it can continue to operate even if one wheel fails. It has a maximum speed of 200 metres (220 yards) per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20 centimetres (8 inches) tall. The other side, most of which can not be seen from the Earth, is called the far side or dark side because most of it is uncharted.

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