Space

China releases batch of Change’e-4 images from the far side of the moon

CHANG'E-4 LANDER FROM YUTU-2 Source: CLEP / CNSA

China’s National Space Administration has released a new batch of images from its Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 lander and rover, which have awoken for their 14th lunar day on the dark side of the moon.

The space agency published data collected by the robots including pictures of the Von Kármán Crater where the Chang’e-4 landed a year ago. The high-resolution images were taken by the rover’s panoramic camera and the landers’ terrain camera and included pictures of regolith, craters, the far-off skyline, lunar soil and of each other.

The moon, which is tidally locked, a phenomenon that allows the one side of the lunar surface to only ever be visible to Earth means that regular communication methods do not work.  China, the first to have successfully landed on the far side of the moon, had to utilize a communication satellite that passes beyond the moon in a halo orbit to send data back to Earth.

Chang’e-4 began its 14th lunar day on January 19, 2020, with the rovers 14th day commencing the day before. Both robots have exceeded their expected lifespans of one year and three months respectively, with both still performing their designated tasks without issues.

One lunar day is the equivalent to fourteen days back on Earth, with temperatures during the day being scorching hot, and nights freezing cold. The duo, which operates using solar power awaken somewhere between twenty-four and forty-eight hours after the sun rises and they turn off twenty-four hours before sunset.

The machines continue to carry out the mission’s objectives which include monitoring surface temperatures, cosmic-ray studies, solar corona observations, radio astronomical observations and the study of chemical compositions of lunar soils and rocks while providing us with some never before seen images while doing it.