Chinese rover powers up devices in pioneering moon mission

Chinese rover powers up devices in pioneering moon mission

China's Chang'e 4 craft on Thursday became the first to land on the far side.

In this photo provided on January 4, 2019, by China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency, Yutu-2, China's lunar rover, leaves wheel marks after leaving the lander that touched down on the surface of the far side of the moon.

It then released a rover, named Yutu-2, which rolled out onto the surface down a ramp.

The rover, which weighs around 300 pounds, will explore the surrounding area of the far side of the moon, never before traversed.

The Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, made the "soft landing" at 0226 GMT and transmitted the first-ever "close range" image of the far side of the moon, the China National Space Administration said.

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Every semester, Purdue University lunar and planetary scientist Jay Melosh demonstrates how the far side gets light using a bright light as the sun and students playing the roles of the moon and the Earth.

The United States is the only country to have landed humans on the moon, and Trump said in 2017 he wanted to return astronauts to the lunar surface to build a foundation for an eventual Mars mission.

The rover, also known as Jade Rabbit 2, has six powered wheels, so it can keep working even if one fails, according to The Associated Press. It is also able to climb 20-degree hills and objects 8 inches tall.

The rover's designer, Shen Zhenrong of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, described the far side of the moon's surface to the state broadcaster CCTV as "soft" and "similar to that when you are walking on the snow", the AP reported. "And it is what our generation and the next generation are supposed to do", said Chang'e-4 chief designer Dr. Wu Weiren, of China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The moon is what scientists call "tidally locked" which means the same side always faces us, while another side always faces away, Loeb said. "This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment!"

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