Welcome To The Dark Side: Video Released Of China's Moon Landing
A little over a month after China successfully landed a spacecraft on the mysterious far side of the moon, new images and video of the historic landing have given us a fresh look at our orbiting neighbour.
The Chang'e 4 probe touched down on the Moon's dark side -- named as such because it faces away from Earth and is therefore relatively unknown -- on January 3, before deploying its Yutu-2 rover.
A video made up of more than 4,700 images taken by an onboard camera has given us a lander's-eye view of the operation, taking us down to the surface with the spacecraft.
The black-and-white footage, released by the China National Space Administration, begins with a view of the rocky lunar landscape of the Von Karman Crater, an area near the moon's south pole.
The probe can be seen adjusting its altitude and speed as it tries to avoid obstacles on the ground for a smooth landing.
CNSA also released the first panoramic shot of the probe's landing site.
Pitched together from 80 photos, the panorama was taken by a camera on the lander after it released the rover onto the moon's surface, and offers a 360-degree view of the lander's immediate surroundings.
The images were transmitted via the Queqiao satellite and have allowed scientists to conduct a preliminary topographical analysis of the landing site, Chinese state media reported.
The images reveal the probe is surrounded by numerous little craters, which it will have to navigate as its exploration continues.
The landing of the Chang'e 4 probe was a major milestone for China in its race to catch up with Russia and the United States in space exploration, and a leap for lunar exploration overall, for the first time lifting the mysterious veil" of the far side of the moon".
It is hoped the mission's observations will shed light on the moon's terrain, landform and mineral makeup, as well as provide support for future manned missions.
A biological experiment involving silkworm eggs, thale cress and potato seeds will document how these organisms grow and develop in the lunar environment, potentially developing a self-sustaining ecosystem.
Researchers also hope that low-frequency observations of the cosmos from the moon's far side, which blocks radio signals from Earth, will help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and even the birth of the universe's first stars.