Chang’e-4, China’s space probe that made the first-ever landing on the far side of the Moon last week has sent back its first panoramic views of our satellite – and they are incredible.
Chang’e-4, named after the Chinese moon goddess, made its historic soft landing on January 3, catapulting China into the space big league. Its rover, Yutu 2, or Jade Rabbit, named after the moon goddess’ pet, has since set about exploring the lunar surface.
Now the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has released the very first panoramic view of the moonscape from the far side of the Moon.
The 360° shot was taken by cameras mounted on top of the lander. In the photo, you can see the lander, the gray lunar surface, pocks and craters, and the Yutu rover off making tracks.
The incredible image has been turned into a just as stunning wide panoramic picture by scientists, which you can see in all its glorious detail much larger here, as well as a video.
"Researchers have completed the preliminary analysis of the lunar surface topography around the landing site based on the image taken by the landing camera," CNSA said in a statement on Friday.
Chang'e-4 landed in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin, the largest and deepest impact crater in the Solar System, and is hoping to help solve all sorts of lunar mysteries, such as its internal structure and evolution. China even hopes to grow plants and crops on the Moon, unsurprisingly starting with potatoes, to test its potential for future inhabitants of a lunar base.
Other payloads include a neutron radiation detector developed by German scientists to assess the landing site, and a "neutral" atom detector that will study how the solar wind behaves on the Moon's surface.
For now, we're just in awe of the images it's sending back.