This is what the dark side of the moon looks like

Image Flickr Bruce Irving

Image Flickr Bruce Irving

A photo from China's space agency showed tracks the rover left as it headed away from a ramp leading down from the spacecraft.

It also carried cotton, rapeseed, potato, Arabidopsis, fruit fly and yeast samples to form a mini biosphere in the lifeless environment, said state news agency Xinhua. Regardless of how secretive the Chinese media may be about this accomplishment, it is a giant and historic landmark in space exploration.

One challenge of sending a probe to the moon's far side is communicating with it from Earth.

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

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.

The far side has been mapped by several orbiting craft over the years.

Malcolm Davis, senior analyst in defence strategy and capability at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said: "There's a lot of geopolitics or astropolitics about this, it's not just a scientific mission, this is all about China's rise as a superpower". It has a maximum speed of 0.1 miles per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or mount an obstacle up to 8 inches tall, the report said. Its maximum speed is 200 meters (220 yards) per hour.

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"China has never said it is in a space race with the United States, and has no such intention", said Professor Wang Xiangsui, director of the Research Centre of Strategic Issues at Beihang University.

China Central Television announced the landing of the spacecraft on the moon as the main item on its noon news and said it had occurred at 10:26 a.m. Thursday. By that time, speculation already had begun spreading on social media in China and overseas.

The transfer mechanism unlocked as planned with one side reaching the moon's surface, allowing the rover to descend to the surface from the slope. But it was this mystery that encouraged China to set out for the discovery, he added.

They called the landing "a major milestone in space exploration".

China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country to do so after Russian Federation and the United States.

Another glimpse of the moon's far side from Chang'e-4's perspective. "On Mars, you can pick out smooth areas".

We're looking forward to the treasure trove of data Chang'e-4 sends back, but the CNSA aren't stopping here - Chang'e-5 is scheduled to launch by 2020, with the aim of landing on the Moon and then returning to Earth. The United States is the only country to successfully send astronauts to the moon - 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing - although China is considering a crewed mission too.

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