New images of Moon's far side captured by Chang'e-4 landing camera

Chinese Chang'e 4 Relay Satellite

Chinese Chang'e 4 Relay Satellite

Spacecraft have taken pictures of the moon's far side before, but no lander has ever landed there.

The lunar explorer Chang'e 4 touched down on Thursday morning Beijing time (just before 2.30am GMT), official China Central Television said.

China became the first country in history to land an unmanned probe on the far side of the moon on Wednesday.

Following the December 7, 2018 launch of the Chang'e 4 mission using a Long March-3B/G3Z booster/launch vehicle the Chinese spacecraft reached lunar orbit last weekend.

In 2013, Chang'e 3 made the first moon landing since the former Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976.

The probe, which has a lander and a rover, will conduct surveys on terrain, mineral composition and other environmental qualities in collaboration with countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

The landing is the latest step for China in its race to catch up with Russian Federation and the United States and become a major space power by 2030.

Onboard Chang'e-4 is an experiment never attempted before.

As reported by the Metro, mission spokesman Yu Guobin said: "The far side of the moon is a rare quiet place that is free from interference of radio signals from Earth".

The two PolyU teams will also contribute to the mission of the Chang'e-5, slated for launch at the end of this year. Chang'e-4 communicates with Earth via a relay satellite in orbit around the moon, something that adds another level of complexity and risk, according to Jim Head, a researcher at Brown University who worked with Chinese colleagues to analyze Chang'e-4's landing site.

"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.

One challenge of operating on the far side of the moon is communicating with Earth. According to the state news source Xinhua, the Chang'e-4 successfully landed on the Von Karman crater.

It is among a slew of ambitious Chinese targets, which include a reusable launcher by 2021, a super-powerful rocket capable of delivering payloads heavier than those NASA and private rocket firm SpaceX can handle, a moon base, a permanently crewed space station, and a Mars rover.

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