Watch China's rover drive around on the dark side of the moon

The Chang'e-4 probe made the world's first soft landing on the moon's 'dark side' on January 3 a major step in China's ambitions to become a space superpower

The Chang'e-4 probe made the world's first soft landing on the moon's 'dark side' on January 3 a major step in China's ambitions to become a space superpower

The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate as it orbits our planet, so most of the far side - or "dark side" - is never visible to us.

However, now the Chinese National Space Administration reports that its space missions are proceeding as planned, with the spacecraft working well after landing on the far side of the moon.

China successfully put a lander and rover combo onto the surface of the moon becoming the first nation to explore the far side of the moon from its surface.

"We will decide whether it will do it on the dark side of the moon or the near side depending on the sampling situation of the Chang'e-5", Wu told reporters. He added that while NASA's satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward.

The future launches will culminate with a mission to test equipment for an worldwide moon research base, Wu Yanhua, deputy chief commander of China's Lunar Exploration Programme, said at a press briefing.

China has made space exploration a top priority in recent years, as it races to catch up with Russian Federation and the United States and become a major space power by 2030. The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 USA law was enacted.

NASA has not published any statements on the collaboration and could not immediately be reached for comment.

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The video footage, seen below, is black and white and gives a view of the landscape of the lunar far side that starts far away and hard to see in detail.

Chang'e 4 has two main components with the stationary lander that sits on the surface and a six-wheeled rover that cruises the surface called Yutu 2. Among the images is a stunning 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander after it released the rover onto the lunar surface.

Finally, the Chang'e-8 mission will test technologies and do "some preliminary exploration for countries to jointly build a lunar research base in the future", Wu said. The probe is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid obstacles on the ground.

He explained the sense of national pride in the mission: "It proves that China can do something that no other country has achieved in space exploration".

In 2013, China became just the third country, after the US and the then-Soviet Union, to successfully "soft land" on the Moon when its Chang'e 3 lander reached the lunar surface.

The United States is the only other country that has carried out moon landings.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing and lunar missions continue to be a source of fascination for all segments of the population.

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