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Incredible Descent Video of the Chinese Lander to the Lunar Far Side

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Posted January 15, 2019

On January 2nd, 2019, China’s Chang’e-4 lander made a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) report that after 9 days on the surface, the mission is in good shape. The Yutu-2 rover has been deployed and has begun exploring the Von Karman crater.

CNSA has released some video of the mission, including a video of Chang’e-4’s historic descent. Thanks to the hard-working people at the Planetary Society, and to Andrew Jones who reports on the Chinese Space Program, we have a handful of new videos and images of the Chang’e-4’s mission to enjoy.

The first video shows Chang’e-4’s descent into the Von Karman crater. The CLEP chose the crater as its landing site because of the crater’s depth. Von Karman is a crater-within-a-crater, and it’s possible that the impact event blasted away the crust and exposed some of the Moon’s mantle. The CLEP is using Chang’e-4 to examine the chemical and geological nature of the area, and to try and discover more about the Moon’s formation and interior.

The video is sped up, and the views-cape makes it hard to determine exactly how close the lander is to the surface. There’s nothing for reference, and there’s no way to tell how large the craters are. It’s only at about 2:10 in the video that you can determine how close to the surface Chang’e-4 is, when the thrusters blow dust around.

Chang’e-4’s descent into Von Kármán crater on 3 January 2019, captured with Chang’e-4’s Landing Camera (LCAM). Credit: CNSA / CLEP

Next are two videos of the Yutu-2 rover on the far side of the Moon. The first one shows the rover leaving the lander.

Yutu-2 travelling down the ramp from the Chang’e-4 lander. Credit: CNSA/CLEP

The next video shows Yutu-2 travelling on the lunar surface after deployment.

Yutu-2 on the lunar surface after initial deployment. Credit: CNSA/CLEP

There are also some images of the mission: one of the rover, one of the lander, and the mission’s first panoramic image.

Yutu-2 as imaged by the Chang’e-4’s Terrain Camera (TCAM) Image Credit: CNSA/CLEP

The Chang’e-4 lander, as captured by Yutu-2’s Panoramic Camera (PCAM). Image Credit: CNSA/CLEP

A 360 degree panoramic image of the landing site, including wheel-marks leading away from the lander to the recently-deployed rover. Image Credit: CNSA/CLEP

Reporter Andrew Jones also tweeted this picture, showing the lander, the rover, and it’s path so far.

Special thanks to the Planetary Society and reporter Andrew Jones of the GBTimes for their work on the Chang’e-4 mission.

Further reading: Planetary Society, Bad Astronomy.

Source: Universe Today, by Evan Gough.

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