China has revealed pictures of the world’s first safe landing on the supposed ‘dark side of the moon.
Thursday’s historic spacecraft landing reinforces Beijing’s space ambition which continues to raise questions.
CCTV announced that the unmanned Chang’e-4 probe which left Earth on December 8, touched down in the South Pole-Aitken basin, at 3:26 a.m. Central Africa Time.
Chief Engineer of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, Wu Weiren, said it is a step towards asserting China’s dominance in outer space as well as on earth.
Unlike the face of the Moon closest to the Earth, no probe had ever touched the ground on the other side.
The hidden side is said to be mountainous and rugged, dotted with craters, while the visible side offers many flat surfaces for landing.
Engineer Wu Weiren confirmed that the hidden face of the moon is mysterious and distant. But it was this mystery that encouraged China to set out for the discovery, he added.
The operation considered very difficult by experts cost Beijing years of preparation.
The iconic image released by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation inaugurates a new chapter in the world’s lunar exploration history
“Of all the programs, thanks to everyone’s work and despite the high risks, most experts wanted Chang’e-4 to land on the hidden side of the moon,” Weiren said.
This marks the second time the East Asian giant has sent a device to explore the Moon after the small motorized robot Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) in 2013. It had remained active on the visible face of the star for 31 months.