"Unexplored!" --China Releases First Photos of Moon's Far Side

The Chinese mission was to land on the side of the moon that is never seen from earth due to the moon rotation, a phenomenon called "tidal locking".

The Chang'e 4 probe successfully performed the first soft landing on the Moon's far side on 3 January.

The 308-pound rover, part of China's Chang'e-4 mission, initially went on a standby mode on Saturday to protect itself from the heat on the moon's surface, which can reach upwards of 390 degrees Fahrenheit, the Chinese space agency's China Lunar Exploration Program explained in a statement.

Among the images is a 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander after it released the rover onto the lunar surface, Xinhua said, citing Li Chunlai, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the ground application system of Chang'e 4.

The lunar probe last week transmitted early images of its exploration on the far side, and the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has now released the first panoramic shot of its landing site.

Chang'e-4 was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China on 7 December.

The moon's surface on this side is thicker and more pitted than the familiar earth facing side. The deepest region on the Moon, where there is an altitude of minus 9,100 meters, is about 700 kilometers to the south of the probe. The other face, most of which can not be seen from Earth, is called the far side or dark side of the Moon, not because it is dark, but because most of it is uncharted.

The Chang'e 4 lander, as seen by the Yutu 2 rover.

Because the far side faces away from Earth, it is also shielded from radio transmissions - making it the flawless place from where to study the universe.

The original Yutu rover from the 2013 Chang'e-3 mission to the lunar near side also took a similar break during its first lunar day in Mare Imbrium.

While China certainly has reason to celebrate the accomplishments thus far with the Chang'e 4 mission, the country still has months of scientific observation and study ahead of it before it can declare all of its objectives complete. And the SPA Basin might be an impact from that period.

Vanessa Coleman

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