These are the first photos taken on the “dark” side of the moon.
China became the first country to softland on the far side of the moon at 10:26 am Beijing time on January 3, 2019. Softlanding means the spacecraft landed without damage to the vehicle.
“It’s a very good start. It is one of the signature events in the course of our building a space power,” CNSA Chief Designer Wu Weiren explained.
According to the China National Space Administration, the lander, Chang’e 4, reached the Von Kármán crater and the rover, which is called Yutu-2, separated from Chang’e 4 soon after and began traversing the never-explored region of the moon.
The far side of the moon never faces the Earth because the moon takes the same amount of time to rotate on its axis as it does to orbit the Earth. This phenomenon is referred to as “tidal locking.”
The far side of the moon is also known as the “dark side,” but it’s not actually dark — it gets the same amount of sunlight as the side of the moon visible from Earth. Radio frequencies also don’t reach the far side of the moon directly. So to land Chang’e 4, the Chinese had to launch a satellite in May 2018 to act as a communication bridge between the spacecraft and ground control.
The success of Chang’e 4 establishes China as a major space power.