The Chinese mission Chang’e 4 has been since January on the far side of the Moon, with the Asian country becoming the first to land a ship in the lunar hemisphere that can never be seen from here. At the moment, the Yutu-2 spacecraft and rover are in hibernation mode until the extremely chilly lunar night ends (a lunar night lasts about two weeks), but the Chinese space agency CNSA released some more images than the mission made the most mysterious side of our natural satellite.
While the stationary probe is in the Von Kármán crater, the Yutu-2 rover continues to traverse the surface to investigate chemical and geological differences between the lunar hemispheres. Both have survived four days and four lunar nights – as each day and night lasts about two weeks, a whole day, considering day and night, ends up lasting about 30 Earth days. However, the mission is designed to last only three lunar days – so China can already celebrate this Chang’e 4 success more resilient than imagined.
Yutu-2 has already explored nearly 180 meters from the surface of the far side of the Moon, beating the record of the previous Chinese rover (the Yutu-1), which ran 114 meters before it stopped operating in 2014. However, being close – after all, the probe and rover are already surviving longer than expected. Scientists at CNSA report that all elements of the mission (including the Queqiao satellite in the Moon’s orbit, responsible for relaying the Change ‘4 information to Earth) are operational, but running to the bare minimum before they stop at once all.
For now, China has released only more images of the mission, while current scientific data will be released as soon as the analyzes are completed. After Chang’e 4, the country plans to launch Chang’e 5 in 2019.
Source: The Planetary Society