Tag: lunar rover

First Photo Show China’s Lunar Rover Set Out Across The Far Side of The Moon

China’s far-side moon rover is already busy exploring its exotic new home.

On Wednesday night (Jan. 2), the Chang’e 4 rover and its stationary-lander companion pulled off the first-ever soft touchdown on the lunar far side, coming to a rest inside the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater.

The six-wheeled rover, known as Yutu 2, isn’t pausing to catch its breath, as a newly released photo shows.

Yutu 2 has already put a fair bit of space between itself and the lander, trundling over near the rim of a small crater on the floor of Von Kármán, which itself lies within an even larger impact feature — the 1,550-mile-wide (2,500 km) South Pole-Aitken Basin.

Both Yutu 2 and the lander sport four science instruments, which they’ll use to study the surrounding dirt and rocks and probe the far side’s subsurface.




Such observations could help scientists better understand the moon’s composition, structure and evolution, Chinese space officials have said.

Chang’e 4’s images and data come home via a relay satellite called Queqiao, which is parked at a gravitationally stable spot beyond the moon.

Queqiao, which launched in May 2018, is collecting some data of its own. The spacecraft totes an astronomy instrument, and it has sent home striking images of the moon and Earth from its unique vantage point in space.

The solar-powered Yutu 2 is designed to operate for at least three months on the lunar surface. The original Yutu was also a moon rover, which landed on the near side in December 2013 as part of China’s Chang’e 3 mission.

Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 were moon orbiters that launched in 2007 and 2010, respectively. Chang’e 5, which could launch as early as this year, will aim to bring moon rocks and dirt down to Earth.

The most recent such lunar sample-return flight was achieved in 1976, by the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 mission.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

China Launches Lunar Rover To Far Side Of The Moon

China is poised to become the first country to explore the far side of the moon with the launch of a lunar rover Saturday, another step to its goal of becoming a space superpower.

The Chang’e 4 lunar mission lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province in the early morning, confirmed by the Twitter account of the country’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

It’s expected to land in early January after 26 days of flight, said China’s Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The lander will conduct the first lunar low-frequency radio astronomy experiment, observe whether plants will grow in the low-gravity environment, and explore whether there is water or other resources at the poles.

Another function of the mission is to study the interaction between solar winds and the moon surface using a new rover.




Since the far side of the moon is shielded from electromagnetic interference from the Earth, it’s an ideal place to research the space environment and solar bursts, and the probe can ‘listen’ to the deeper reaches of the cosmos,” said Tongjie Liu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center for the China National Space Administration.

Because the far side of the moon is free from interference from radio frequencies, the mission requires a relay satellite to transmit signals that was launched into place this year.

The Chang’e 4 rover is 1.5 meters (5 feet) long and about 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide and tall, with two foldable solar panels and six wheels.

China is anxious to get into the record books with its space achievements,” said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the US Naval War College and an expert on China’s space program.

Beijing plans to launch its first Mars probe around 2020 to carry out orbital and rover exploration, followed by a mission that would include collection of surface samples from the Red Planet.

In comparison, despite its recent success in sending a robotic lander to Mars, the US space agency NASA has faced years of budgetary constraints.

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Pass it on: New Scientist