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Chinese rover powers up devices in pioneering moon mission:The Asahi Shimbun

07 January 2019

China's Chang'e-4 probe has released its rover Yutu 2 to explore the far side of the moon after making the historic touchdown on the moon's uncharted side on Thursday.

Nevertheless, this is a significant step in China's bid to become a leading power in space exploration, alongside the United States and Russian Federation. Previous landings, including one by China's Chang'e 3 in 2013, have been on the near side.

The first photos from the landing, shared by the China National Space Administration on Thursday, show the first close-ups of the far side of the moon's cratered surface.

"It's a small step for the rover, but one giant leap for the Chinese nation", Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project, told state broadcaster CCTV, in a twist of USA astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous comment when he became the first human to walk on the moon in 1969.

"The Chang'e-4, carrying eight payloads, will conduct low-frequency radio astronomical observation, survey the terrain and landforms, detect the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure and measure the neutron radiation and neutral atoms to study the environment on the far side of the Moon".

Every semester, Purdue University lunar and planetary scientist Jay Melosh demonstrates how the far side gets light using a bright light as the sun and students playing the roles of the moon and the Earth. Both China's space community and public have taken pride in the accomplishment, with some drawing comparisons to the US.

While China's space program still lags America's, He said "China has already positioned itself at least as good as Russian Federation and the European Union".

Chang'e-4 includes two main parts: the main lander weighing about 1,088 pounds and a 136-kilogramme rover. "We Chinese people have done something that the Americans have not dared try."China plans to put astronauts on a lunar base in about 10 years".

The rover, also known as Jade Rabbit 2, has six powered wheels, so it can keep working even if one fails, according to The Associated Press. It can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall.

"The surface is soft and it is similar that you are walking on the snow", Shen Zhenrong, the rover designer from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said on CCTV.

Chinese rover powers up devices in pioneering moon mission:The Asahi Shimbun