Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

China’s Chang’e 4 mission to the far side of the moon landed successfully at the start of the month, and now footage has been shared of a lander’s-eye view of the touchdown.

change 4 landing footage
CLEP/CNSA

The Chang’e 4 mission touched down in the 115-mile-wide (185 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon on January 2 this year. It captured footage of the descent towards the surface with a camera which was attached to the probe. The black and white video footage of the landing starts off with a view of the lunar landscape, then shows the craft pivoting towards the surface of the Moon at around the one minute mark. The Von Kármán Crater is visible as the craft descends towards the surface.

The craft pauses at around the two minute mark, likely using instruments to assess the surface below and check that it was suitable for landing. Having confirmed that the landing site is good, the craft continues onward and touches down on the surface. You can see the dust and debris which is kicked up by the craft’s descent engines.

The Chang’e 4 craft contains a lander and a rover which have a range of scientific instruments between them for investigating the surface of the Moon and its subsurface. The hope is that data from this mission could shed light on the structure of the Moon and on how it evolved over time, according to Chinese officials. In addition, a biological experiment is included in the mission. There is a tin containing silkworm eggs and plant seeds to see how these organisms develop in the low-gravity environment, which could be important in the future for growing food in space, among other things.

This is the first ever mission to successfully touch down on the far side of the moon — the side of the moon which is always facing away from the Earth. This location is challenging to land on because it is usually impossible to communicate between there and Earth due to the the lack of an unobstructed path between the two locations. However, China has overcome this by sending a satellite into orbit around the Moon which collects data from the craft and relays it back to Earth.

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