China's state media confirmed that touchdown occurred at 10:26 a.m. local time; later in the day, the China National Space Administration released the first close-ups of the surface of the far side, taken by Chang'e-4 after it landed.
The Chinese explorer broadcasted a photo of the "dark side" of the moon to the Queqiao satellite - launched in May, to provide communications support between Earth and Chang'e 4 - after landing at 10:26 am, Beijing time, as reported by the official China Central Television. The far side of the moon has great promise as a place to study the cosmos using radio waves because it removes a large amount of interference that Earth-bound and orbiting telescopes suffer from.
In a statement yesterday, the China National Space Administration said its triumphant touchdown has "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration", and it is "willing to cooperate with space agencies, space and science research institutions and foreign space and science enthusiasts from all over the world to explore the mysteries of the universe".
The landing appears to have been accomplished without any major issues, however, and the Chinese lander and rover will be able to begin exploring the moon's far side, an environment astronauts and spacecraft have until today only seen from afar. The Chinese needed to launch a separate satellite to relay signals back to mission control. By 11 a.m., English-language Twitter accounts of the state-run media China Daily and CGTN had announced the successful landing, but the tweets were quickly deleted. In 2013, Chang'e 3, the predecessor craft to the current mission, made the first moon landing since the then-Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976. Space programs in the United States and the former Soviet Union made intense efforts at lunar exploration in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. However, moon missions waned after the Soviet Union collapsed and NASA directed funds toward global space stations and exploration of the rest of the solar system. Because the moon circles the earth every 27.3 days in a synchronous rotation the side of the moon where Chang'e 4 landed remains facing away from earth.More news: Federal Reserve offers $1 trillion support for strained United States banks
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Infographic of the Chang'e-4 lunar landing mission.
Of particular interest to lunar scientists is the geological and mineral makeup of the landing site, said de Grijs, who now works at Macquarie University in Sydney.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) made this artist's impression of the Chang'e-4 lunar rover available on January 2.
China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country to do so after Russian Federation and the United States.