Chinese moon lander Chang’e-4 and its companion rover Yutu 2 just took photos of each other while basking in sunlight on the far side of the Moon, which faces away from the Earth.
After touching down just over a week ago, the lander has now sent back several new pictures, including a stunning 360 degree panorama of its surroundings. The Yutu 2 rover, and the tracks it left as it made its way across the lunar surface, can be seen in the bottom left.
The lander also sent back a video stitched together from more than 4,700 static images taken by the on-board camera. The video shows Chang’e-4 adjusting its trajectory right before landing on the lunar surface below.
All that information had to go through a specially deployed relay satellite, since the Moon itself blocks direct signals to Earth from its far side.
Exploring the Far Side
The Chang’e-4 launched on December 7 to explore the far side of the Moon and investigate how its mineral composition and structure compare to the much better-known near side. It’s also carrying a tiny biosphere containing a number of Earth-based species including potato plants and fruit flies.
China’s Lunar and Deep Space Exploration organization claims the mission “was a complete success” according to an update on its website published today, as interpreted by Google Translate.