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Touch Down: China Lands Humanity's First Rover on Far Side of the Moon and 1st Images are Here

China has released photos of the dark side of the moon from its successful mission to become the first country to land a spacecraft on the moon's far side. Photos shared by China's National Space Administration show close-ups of the lunar surface captured in what was both a first in history and a win for China in its efforts to compete with the US and Russia in space exploration.

Dark side of the moon China

The images were captured by cameras on China's Chang'e 4 lunar probe, which landed on the moon at 10:26 a.m. on Thursday, according to CNSA. This image was taken on the south side of the landing site, CNSA said.

dark side of the moon China
China's Chang'e 4 captured a close-up photo of the dark side of the moon. 
China's National Space Administration

CNSA also shared an image of the moon's surface after the landing.

China dark side of the moon
This image was taken after the landing of the lunar probe. 
China's National Space Administration

China became the third country in the world to "soft-land" — land without damage — on the moon in 2013. But it has now become the first country to land on its dark side, a big step in President Xi Jinping's aims to make China a powerhouse of space exploration.

The soft landing is different from an "impact" — in which an object smashes into the surface at speed. The first human-made object to hit the dark side of the moon was NASA's Ranger 4 craft in 1964, which crashed after a system failure.

Though the region is called the dark side of the moon, it is not actually deprived of light. It is called "dark" because humans know much less about it than the side that faces Earth. The Chang'e 4's objective is to learn more about this part of the moon, including studying its mineral composition and the structure of its surface, CNSA said.

The agency also said the reduced radio signals from earth would allow scientists to study the sun, other planets, and the origin of stars.

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