Chinese rover powers up devices in pioneering moon mission

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Although United States, Soviet Union and China itself have sent spacecraft to the near side of the moon or the side directly visible from Earth, no lander or rover has ever touched the other side.

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.

The posting says the Jade Rabbit 2 rover had succeeded in establishing a digital transmission link with a relay satellite that sends data back to the Beijing control centre.

Yutu-2, atop the probe, extended its solar panel, stretched out its mast and started to slowly fly to the lunar surface Thursday night.

A photo taken by the lunar explorer Chang'e 4 at 11.40am China time (3.40 GMT) and published online by the official Xinhua News Agency shows a small crater and a barren surface that appears to be illuminated by a light from the probe.

Jadehase 2 has six independent drive wheels and can travel up to 200 meters per hour. It can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 8 inches tall.

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The pioneering achievement is another demonstration of China's ambitions to be a space power.

Chang'e 4 is carrying six experiments from China and four from overseas, including low-frequency radio astronomical studies, which aim to take advantage of the lack of interference on the far side.

"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".

China was the first to complete a "soft landing", without damage, on the far side of the moon.

The far side is often referred to as the "dark side" because it can not be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown.

The first Chang'e spacecraft was launched in 2007 to verify China's lunar probe technology, obtain lunar images and perform scientific surveys.

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