China Moon mission lands Chang’e-4 spacecraft on far side

China says it has successfully landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, the first ever such attempt and landing.

At 10:26 Beijing time (02:26 GMT), the unmanned Chang’e-4 probe touched down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, state media said.

It is carrying instruments to analyse the unexplored region’s geology, as well to conduct biological experiments.

The landing is being seen as a major milestone in space exploration.

There have been numerous missions to the Moon in recent years, but the vast majority have been to orbit, fly by or impact. The last manned landing was Apollo 17 in 1972.

The Chang’e-4 probe has already sent back first the pictures from the surface, which were shared by state media.

With no direct communication link possible, all pictures and data have to be bounced off a separate satellite before being relayed to Earth.

Why is this Moon landing so significant?

Previous Moon missions have landed on the Earth-facing side, but this is the first time any craft has landed on the unexplored and rugged far side.

The Chang’e-4 was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China on 7 December; it arrived in lunar orbit on 12 December.

Source: BBC

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