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.
Now, the engineers working on the project are handing the reigns to the scientific exploration team, according to the update.
And we can’t wait to find out what they’ll be able to learn from studying the far side of the Moon in the upcoming months.
READ MORE: China Moon probes take snaps of each other [BBC]
More on Chang’e-4: See China’s Lunar Rover Set Off Across the Far Side of the Moon