Chinese probe successfully lands on far side of moon, sends back images

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"Since the far side of the Moon is shielded from electromagnetic interference from the Earth, it's an ideal place to research the space environment and solar bursts, and the probe can "listen" to the deeper reaches of the cosmos", said Tongjie Liu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center at China's National Space Administration. Direct communications with spacecraft on the far side are blocked by the moon itself.

Why it matters: China's state media has announced that the country has landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, making it the first nation to achieve the feat. U.S. President Donald Trump said in 2017 he wants to return astronauts to the lunar surface and establish a foundation there for an eventual mission to Mars. Not long after it landed, Chang'e-4 transmitted a picture of its landing site.

The ambition to land on the far side of the moon was articulated by China's space agencies years ago, and 2018 was set as the year when they would launch.

One of those experiments is a biosphere project, which includes silkworm eggs, thale cress and potato seeds. Scientists hope there will be flowers blooming on the moon within three months.

The Chang'e-4 took this photo of the moon's surface shortly after landing.

"The Chinese lunar space programme is hugely ambitious".

"There's a lot of enthusiasm for the space program in China".

Launched from Xichang in southwest China's Sichuan province on Dec 8, the spacecraft is on a mission to seek out what lies on this mysterious "dark side" of the Moon, which can not be seen from the Earth as the Moon is tidally locked to the Earth and rotates at the same rate that it orbits the Earth. The satellite is appropriately named since Queqiao means "bridge of magpies".

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In 2013, Chang'e 3, the predecessor craft to the current mission, made the first moon landing since the former Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976. The agency did release a video of the landing, which was created by combining 3,000 images of the descent and speeding it up.

The lander carries a rover that should be deployed sometime Friday. Change'4 returned the favor and also took an image of its companion.

The far side of the moon is often referred to as the "dark side of the moon", but this is a bit of a misnomer. This side of the moon, while it doesn't face the Earth, does receive sunlight.

Scientists are particularly interested in the geology of the basin as it may help explain how the Moon formed.

"It's really a historic time, and I am very very excited!"

Getting to the far side poses engineering challenges, a fact that kept all 27 previous landings on the near side. "We're really excited to see what those look like, up close".

The robotic craft reportedly touched down in the South Pole-Aitken basin at 10.26am CST.

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