China’s probe makes historic landing on dark side of moon
BEIJING : A Chinese space probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon yesterday, state media said, hailing it as an historic first landing there on a mission seen as a vital step for China's space programme.
Chinese state television said the Chang'e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, made the "soft landing" at 2.26am Greenwhich Mean Time (10.26am Singapore time) and transmitted the first "close range" image of the dark side of the moon.
The moon rotates at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side - or the "dark side" - is never visible from Earth. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon but none of them has landed on it.
The landing "lifted the mysterious veil" from the far side of the moon and "opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration", the broadcaster said.
The probe, which includes a lander and a rover, touched down at a pre-selected landing area, the official Xinhua news agency said, after it had entered the moon's orbit last month.
Xinhua posted a wide-angle colour picture of a crater from the moon's surface to its microblog.
The tasks of the Chang'e-4 include astronomical observation, surveying the moon's terrain, landform and mineral composition and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms, the China National Space Administration has said.
China aims to catch up with Russia and the US to become a major space power by 2030. It is planning to launch construction of its own manned space station next year. While China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the US Defence Department has accused it of pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis.
Beijing has tested anti-satellite missiles, and the US Congress has banned Nasa from bilateral cooperation with its Chinese counterpart due to security concerns.- REUTERS