Chinese rover makes tracks on moon's 'dark' side

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Chinese websites released several images captured during the lander's descent, and then revealed several more pictures taken of the mission's six-wheeled rover as it drove down a ramp and onto the lunar surface.

The Yutu-2 rover. Image credit: CNSA. If the minerals found on the moon's far side are in any way useful here on Earth, you can bet all major nations will be jockeying over them.

"A small step for the robotic vehicle, a giant leap for the Chinese nation", said the chief designer of the vehicle, Wu Wiren, paraphrasing the words of the American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, the first man to have been on the moon about 50 years ago.

China's Chang'e-4 probe touched down on the far side of the moon Thursday, becoming the first spacecraft soft-landing on the moon's uncharted side never visible from Earth.

"The landing on the far side shows China's technology is powerful", said He Qisong, a space expert at the East China University of Science and Law in Shanghai.

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To bridge communications from the normally hidden hemisphere of the Moon, China launched a relay satellite, Queqiao, in May of 2018 in to an orbit beyond the lunar farside. Such observations could help scientists better understand the moon's composition, structure and evolution, Chinese space officials have said.

Yutu also conquered those challenges and, after initial setbacks, surveyed the moon's surface for 31 months.

The mission highlights China's growing ambitions to rival the US, Russia and Europe in space, and more broadly, to cement its position as a regional and global power.

"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", Tongjie Liu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center for the China National Space Administration, told CNN.

China plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe to the moon next year and have it return to Earth with samples - the first time that will have been done since 1976. The vehicle can slant up to 20 degrees and overcome obstacles up to 20 centimeters in size.

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