China's Chang'e-4 lunar probe has sent ultra-high definition and panoramic photos of the moon's dark side, after its historic January 3 soft-landing on the side that is always oriented away from Earth.
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. The photos reveal a seemingly endless horizon of grey, rocky terrain.
This is the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover mission in 2013.
One of the published images is a 360-degree panorama which was pieced together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander after the rover drove onto the lunar surface, according to 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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Scientists have said the far side is a key area for solving several unknowns about the moon, including its internal structure and thermal evolution.
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Researchers hope that low-frequency observations of the cosmos from the far side of the moon, where radio signals from Earth are blocked, will help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and birth of the universe's first stars.
The panoramic view of the far side of the Moon captured by the Change'e 4 lander.
This is the first time an attempt was made to explore the far side of the Moon.
The mission consists of two robots: the Chang'e 4 lander and the Yutu 2 rover. The deepest region on the Moon, where there is an altitude of minus 9,100 meters, is about 700 kilometers to the south of the probe.
We Earthlings only ever get to glimpse one face of the Moon since the satellite is tidal locked to our planet.
The space administration also released a 12-minute video of Chang'e 4's landing utilizing more than 4,700 images taken by an onboard camera.
The Chang'e 4 lander, as seen by the Yutu 2 rover.