Credit: China National Space Administration (CNSA)/China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television(CCTV)/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China’s Chang’e-4 probe was launched on December 8, 2018, making the first-ever soft landing within the Von Kármán Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the Moon’s far side on January 3, 2019.

Von Kármán crater (186 kilometer diameter), a treasure house of geologic landforms. Image taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s LROC Wide Angle Camera.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

The Chang’e-4 lander deployed the Yutu-2 rover that has now wheeled over 1,000 meters of lunar landscape. The lander and rover have so far operated for three years since its landing at the far side of the Moon – much longer than its designed service life of three months, according to a China Central Television (CCTV) broadcast.

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

Surpassed expectations

As for why the lunar mission has surpassed expectations, Fu Qiang, chief designer of the Chang’e-4 ground application system, told CCTV:

Fu Qiang, chief designer of the Chang’e-4 ground application system.
Credit: CNSA/CMG/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“As early as the beginning of the design, we had required high reliability in selecting each component…therefore there was a guarantee of a long service life and high reliability.”

Since the lunar surface temperature is between 160 degrees Celsius and minus 180 degrees Celsius, a difference of more than 300 degrees Celsius, the designers created two rest modes for Chang’e-4—sleep mode and hibernation mode—so that it could better adapt to the harsh climate.

Credit: CNSA/CMG/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“After 38 lunar days of testing, the program and procedure of our design work have proven to be very reasonable,” said Fu.

Radiation resistance

A lunar day is equal to 14 days on Earth, and a lunar night is the same length.

Credit: CNSA/CMG/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Because the Moon has no protective layer, lunar hardware can be affected by various space particles.

Radiation resistance was enhanced for Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2. These protections not only extend the service life of the spacecrafts but also guarantee the accuracy of the collected data.

The Chang’e-4 lander and the Yutu-2 rover are in good working condition, with the rover travelling northwest to a basalt region.

Credit: CNSA/CMG/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Mystery hut

Recently, imagery taken by Yutu-2 caused a stir, with a “mystery” object spotted on the Moon.

Credit: CNSA/CMG/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The object, shaped like a hut, was imaged by the robot.  It was seen over 260-feet (80-meters) away from the rover’s location.

Close-up imagery of the feature show the “mystery hut” to be a rock situated on the edge of a crater.





Go to this video detailing the Chang’e-4 mission at:

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