Image credits: Chinese Academy of Sciences / Chinese Lunar Exploration Program / China National Space Administration (CNSA).




Chang’e-4 views its landing site, including the Yutu-2 rover just to the south, in the first panorama taken after landing, on  January 10, 2019.


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Chang’e-4 farside lander and Yutu-2 rover.

China’s CGTN has posted new imagery of China’s Chang’e-4 probe and its rover Yutu-2. The lunar twosome took photos of each other on Friday.

China’s Chang’e-4 landing image taken from video.


Chang’e-4 probe touched down at the preselected landing area at 177.6 degrees east longitude and 45.5 degrees south latitude in the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin on the farside of the Moon on January 3, and the rover drove onto the lunar surface late that night.

At 4:47 p.m. BJT on Friday, the images of the lander and the rover appeared on a large screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, showing the Chinese national flag on both the lander and the rover with the desolate landscape dotted with craters on the farside of the Moon as the background.

CGTN on January 11 offered a 45-minute special program on Chang’e-4, the farside of the Moon and lunar exploration.

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China National Space Administration (CNSA) has also released a video recording of the entire soft landing on the Moon’s farside by China’s Chang’e-4 probe.

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Image of China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover taken by Chang’e-4 lander.

Post-nap restart

The Yutu-2 restarted its exploration on Thursday after taking a “nap” as solar radiation raised the temperature on the lunar surface to over 100 degrees Centigrade.

The 360-degree panorama image was published by CNSA on Friday, pieced together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander, according to Li Chunlai, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the ground application system of Chang’e-4.

Rugged terrain

As reported by China’s Xinhua news service: “From the panorama, we could see the probe was surrounded by many small craters. It was really thrilling,” Li said.

Image of Chang’e-4 lander taken by Yutu-2 rover.

“One of the craters close to the rover Yutu-2 has a diameter of about 20 meters and a depth of about 4 meters. The rugged terrain will pose great challenges for planning the route of the rover,” Li said. “Compared with the landing site of the Chang’e-3, which was sent to the Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, on the Moon’s nearside, fewer rocks can be found in the area surrounding Chang’e-4, indicating the landing area of Chang’e-4 might be older.”

Avoiding obstacles

The CNSA released video of the landing process of the Chang’e-4, which was produced by processing more than 4,700 pictures taken by a camera on the landing craft. The video, lasting about 12 minutes, shows the lander adjusting its altitude, hovering and avoiding obstacles during the descent.

China’s first Moon lander, Chang’e-3, taken by Yutu-1 rover during 2013 nearside exploration.

“From the video, we can see more dust was thrown up when the Chang’e-4 touched down on the farside of the Moon compared with the landing of Chang’e-3, indicating that the lunar dust at the landing area of Chang’e-4 is thicker than the region where Chang’e-3 landed,” said Zhang Hongbo, chief designer of the ground application system of Chang’e-4, as reported by Xinhua.

“The thicker dust shows that the lunar regolith in the region has undergone longer space weathering, which also gives strong evidence of the region being older. We will conduct comparative research between the landing areas of Chang’e-3 and Chang’e-4,” Li said.


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