Chinese craft lands on dark side of the moon

Chang'e 4 spacecraft lands on far side of the Moon in world first for China

China claims to have landed spacecraft in unexplored side of Moon

It shows a small crater and an empty surface that appears to be lit by a light from the lunar explorer.

In Chinese folklore, Yutu is the white pet rabbit of Chang'e, the moon goddess who lent her name to the Chinese lunar mission.

Now, being recognized as a galactic pioneer is once again part of China's national ambitions. China also wants to strengthen its position as a regional and global power.

The country is hailing the possibilities that the landing of Chang'e 4 opens up because this is the first time such a mission has reached the far side of the Moon. "There's no doubt that our nation will go farther and farther".

The Chang'e 4 spacecraft touched down at 10:26am local time, the official China Central Television said.

It is not the first time the system has been deployed to take sharp photos of the moon's surface: It was first used in 2013 on the Chang'e-3, which landed on the moon's Mare Imbrium crater.

China has been trying to catch up with the United States and other nations in space exploration. But China is considering a crewed mission, as well.

When China announced on Thursday that it had successfully landed on the far side of the moon, it wasn't just a scientific breakthrough. "The back of the moon is also a rare quiet place that shields the radio signal interference from the Earth".

Chang'e 4 will measure the chemical composition of rocks and send that data back to Earth.

The six-wheeled spacecraft will help scientists study the Moon's mysterious "dark side", how its surface interacts with solar wind, and perhaps the process behind the formation of lunar water. To call it the "dark side of the moon", while poetic, is inaccurate, because the far side gets plenty of light. China solved that problem previous year when it launched a lunar satellite called Queqiao, which now acts as the communication link between the lander and Earth.

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003 - only the third country to do so after Russian Federation and the US. When Beijing finally sent its first astronauts into orbit in 2003, Western observers dismissed the news as a probably pointless effort to play catch-up with the United States and Russian Federation. The mission arrived in lunar orbit on December 12. It has had a few setbacks, notably a Long March 5 rocket that plunged into the Pacific minutes after takeoff in July 2017.

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Department of Science Education.

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