China names new moon rover "Yutu-2"

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. — AP

In this photo provided January 3, 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.

The Jade Rabbit 2 sent back a photo of the tracks it had left in the moon's soft, snow-like surface after a Chinese spacecraft successfully landed carrying the equipment. It hopes to have a crewed space station by 2022 and eventually send humans to the moon.

A lunar rover has begun exploring the far side of the moon in the first-ever mission of its kind.

Unlike the near side of the moon, which offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.

Because the moon is tidally locked with Earth, the same half always faces Earth.

Legend has it that Chang'e, after swallowing a magic pill, took her pet and flew toward the moon where she became a goddess and has lived with the white jade rabbit ever since. It may hold clues to the moon's origins, prove rich in minerals, and possibly serve as a "future refueling base for missions deeper into space".

China's space community is taking pride in the successful landing, which posed technical challenges because the moon blocks direct communication between the spacecraft and its controllers on Earth.




In May, China launched Queqiao, a satellite that will help relay the rover's communication.

In another extreme hurdle, during the lunar night - which lasts 14 Earth days - temperatures drop to as low as minus 173 degrees Celsius (minus 279 Fahrenheit).

Chang'e-4 landed in Von Karman crater, a 112-mile (180 km) wide crater located within an even larger impact crater known as the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

Four billion miles past the moon, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft photographed Ultima Thule, the furthest world yet explored by humankind, as the New Year rang in.

The pioneering achievement is another demonstration of China's ambitions to be a space power.

Beijing is planning to send another lunar lander, Chang'e 5, next year to collect samples and bring them back to Earth.

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