Tech & Science

Video: China Releases Incredible Footage of First-Ever Landing on Far Side of the Moon

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has released fascinating footage captured by the Chang’e-4 spacecraft of its historic landing on the far side of the moon, on January 3.

The video, which was broadcast by state-owned CCTV, shows the moments leading up to and including touchdown—the first-ever “soft landing” (one in which there was no damage to the vehicle) on the far side.

Related: How China landed the Chang'e-4 rover on the far side of the moon 

The lunar probe also took several pictures, including a 360-degree panorama of its location in the 110-mile-wide Von Kármán crater. According to CNSA, the images confirm the successful deployment of the accompanying rover, Jade Rabbit 2.

Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua reported that the images were successfully sent back to Earth using the Queqiao relay satellite, which lies around 278,000 miles away from our planet and 37,000 kilometers away from the location of the lander.

"The lander, its rover, and the relay satellite are all in a stable condition,” Zhang Kejian, CNSA told staff in Beijing, Associated Press reported. “They have reached the predetermined engineering goals, right now they are getting into the stage of scientific searches.”

"Now I declare that the Chang'e-4 mission, as a part of the Chang'e Lunar Exploration Program, has been a success," he said.

The panoramic image of the Von Kármán crater reveals the nature of the terrain that Jade Rabbit 2 will have to traverse.

“From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling,” Li Chunlai, from the Chang’e-4 operations team, said, Press Association reported.

Von Kármán is located within a much larger depression known as the South Pole-Aitken basin, which is one the largest known impact craters in the Solar System. Measuring around 1,600 miles in diameter and 8 miles deep, the crater is the largest and deepest basin on the moon, as well as being the oldest.

The far side of the moon is often referred to as the dark side, however, this is technically incorrect. The moon is tidally locked with Earth, meaning that the same side is always facing us, and thus we cannot see the far side from the surface.

But this doesn’t mean it is always dark: The moon completes one rotation around the Earth every 28 days and so any given point on the satellite’s surface will experience around two weeks of night and two weeks day.

The term dark side was often used in the metaphoric sense because until the first pictures were taken of it in 1959—by the Soviet probe Luna 3—no one really knew what it looked like.

GettyImages-1080709356 The Chang’e-4 lunar probe, which landed on January 3, took several pictures, including this 360-degree panorama of its location in the 110-mile-wide Von Kármán crater on the far side of the moon, released by the China National Space Administration, on January 11. China National Space Administration (CNSA) via CNS / AFP

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