China broadcasts spacecraft pictures from moon's far side

January 11, 2019
China broadcasts spacecraft pictures from moon's far side
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows the lander of the Chang'e-4 probe, right, and the rover Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2) taking photos of each other, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (Jin Liwang/Xinhua via AP)

China on Friday broadcast pictures taken by its rover and lander on the moon's far side, in what its space program hailed as another triumph for the groundbreaking mission to the less-understood sector of the lunar surface.

The pictures on state broadcaster CCTV showed the Jade Rabbit 2 rover and the Chang'e 4 spacecraft that transported it on the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, which always faces away from Earth.

The pictures were transmitted by a relay satellite to a control center in Beijing, although it wasn't immediately clear when they were taken.

"The lander, its rover, and the relay satellite are all in a stable condition. They have reached the predetermined engineering goals, right now they are getting into the stage of scientific searches," Zhang Kejian, director of the China National Space Administration, said before engineers at the Beijing center.

"Now I declare that the Chang'e 4 mission, as a part of the Chang'e Lunar Exploration Program, has been a success," Zhang said.

Pictures transmitted back show a rocky surface with the jagged edge of craters in the background, posing a challenge for controllers in plotting the rover's future travels, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Among the images is a 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander after it released the rover onto the lunar surface, Xinhua said, citing Li Chunlai, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the ground application system of Chang'e 4.

China broadcasts spacecraft pictures from moon's far side
Technicians work at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. China on Friday broadcast pictures taken by its rover and lander on the moon's far side, in what its space program hailed as another triumph for the groundbreaking mission to the less-understood sector of the lunar surface. (Jin Liwang/Xinhua via AP)
"From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling," Li was quoted as saying.

The space administration also released a 12-minute video of Chang'e 4's landing utilizing more than 4,700 images taken by an on-board camera. The probe is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid obstacles on the ground.

Researchers hope that low-frequency observations of the cosmos from the far side of the moon, where radio signals from Earth are blocked, will help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and birth of the universe's first stars.

The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface. It is popularly called the "dark side" because it can't be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.

The pioneering landing highlights China's ambitions to rival the U.S., Russia and Europe in space through manned flights and the planned construction of a permanent space station.

Explore further: Chinese rover powers up devices in pioneering moon mission

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unrealone1
2.3 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2019
No stars?
Da Schneib
4.7 / 5 (12) Jan 11, 2019
Not in a picture taken with a CCD under strong sunlight. The thing about CCDs is they don't have great dynamic range.
SamB
1 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2019
The Americans put MEN on the moon in 1969!
This is child's play, and has already been eclipsed many times (again by the Americans) on Mars. Ho-Hum,,,
unrealone1
2 / 5 (6) Jan 12, 2019
No strong sunlight on the dark side of the Moon that's why it's called "Dark".
Again no "Stars", the perfect place for a telescope and no stars?
Very interesting.
Da Schneib
4.5 / 5 (8) Jan 12, 2019
Bwahaha, when the Sun goes behind the Moon there's "no strong sunlight" on the back side of the Moon?

You are either kidding or plain flat nuts.

The Sun and Moon are not flat cardboard cutouts sticking to the cellophane wrapper of the sky.
Solon
1 / 5 (4) Jan 12, 2019
"Not in a picture taken with a CCD under strong sunlight. The thing about CCDs is they don't have great dynamic range."

So what is the dynamic range of the cameras the Chinese are using? What are the lux values of the far side illumination? Is the camera capable of long exposure times? What length of exposure would be required to show some stars? Which planets should be visible from the far side? China could pull of another first with some photos of stars, or Venus or Mars, from the Lunar surface. Won't happen.

szore88
1 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2019
The Chinese can't even make a can opener that lasts longer than a month, gimme a break.
Aroryborealis
3 / 5 (2) Jan 13, 2019
-BREAKING NEWS!-
I ALSO took a buncha photographs on January 11! And a few more today!
They are soooo incredible!
Can I tell ya' all about 'em....without posting any.....TOO?
RealityCheck
2 / 5 (4) Jan 13, 2019
@Solon.
...some photos of stars, or Venus or Mars, from the Lunar surface. Won't happen.
It's not so much a question of "exposure time", but rather of 'best focus length' setting for intended subject/object.

If you're taking pictures of close objects (like Moon surface immediately around the lander/rover out to Moon horizon), the light from distant stars/planets are effectively 'blurred into invisibility" by the focusing and post photo 'cleaning' of the resulting image to highlight/clarify the much nearer subject/object being photographed.

Also, NASA "Earthrise on the Moon" pictures taken by Apollo crew was taken with a camera "focused" accordingly for THAT distance.

Re STARS: realize that in space there's NO atmosphere "refracting/spreading" DISTANT stars light, so stars appear even TINIER 'dots' from space than from Earth and must be specifically adjusted-for to make big enough in 'view'; and pictures of OUR STAR (sun) are taken all the time by spacecraft.

Ok? :)
Parsec
5 / 5 (6) Jan 13, 2019
People making light of this accomplishment are focusing on the fact that a rival superpower did this, and neglecting the fact that this is a marvelous achievement for mankind as a whole. Access to the back side of the moon will allow unrivaled telescopic innovations we can only imagine.

Further, it was far from obvious that man would ever return to the moon after America left the field. While this probe and rover are unmanned, hopefully China will receive enough international crudos to put another human on the moon in the future. This will be required to construct anything really substantial, be it scientific instruments or a base. Perhaps a staging point for future trips to the planets?
Phyllis Harmonic
5 / 5 (4) Jan 13, 2019
No strong sunlight on the dark side of the Moon that's why it's called "Dark".
Again no "Stars", the perfect place for a telescope and no stars?
Very interesting.


There is no "dark side" of the moon. There is the far side with reference to earth- the moon experiences day and night as it rotates on its axis once every ~29 days. The Chinese spacecraft landed while the far side was in daylight- so camera exposures have to be very short and stopped-down. Also, the spacecraft is receiving maximum insolation so it's very warm. They're waiting for the sun to be lower in the sky so the rover can cool off before it starts exploring.
RealityCheck
1 / 5 (3) Jan 13, 2019
@Parsec.
People making light of this accomplishment are focusing on the fact that a rival superpower did this, and neglecting the fact that this is a marvelous achievement for mankind as a whole. Access to the back side of the moon will allow unrivaled telescopic innovations...
The Hubble and other planned/future 'free flying' space telescopes/instruments take advantage of unobstructed self-directed gymbaled/complicated 'rotational viewing' for 'uninterrupted long period focusing' on a distant astronomical feature (or a particular patch of deep space) for as long as desired. Whilst a Moon-surface-bound telescope would be limited by the Moon's own slow/fixed revolution (once a month), which would force any telescope to stop viewing/focusing when the Moon's horizon 'shuts out' the 'line of sight' to any target feature falling within the Moon's equatorial plane. Let's not get carried away with 'congratulations' for 'accomplishments' long 'routine' for US/USSR. :)
JaxPavan
not rated yet Jan 13, 2019
This is about the race to the asteroid belt; to be the first to catch an asteroid, both for resources and as a potential weapon.

This spacecraft is called "jade rabbit" because it is all about fertility, jade and rabbit are the Chinese symbols of fertility. The main purpose of this is to practice growing crops in deep space in order to support colonization of the asteroid belt.

Our own idiocracy is falling behind.
NeMaTo
not rated yet Jan 13, 2019
I don't understand WHAT took that picture at the top. They are taking pictures of each other, so what's taking pictures of them both?
Ojorf
2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 14, 2019
I don't understand WHAT took that picture at the top. They are taking pictures of each other, so what's taking pictures of them both?


The lander, the rover and the tracks are obviously graphics. It's not a photo.
antigoracle
not rated yet Jan 14, 2019
I don't understand WHAT took that picture at the top. They are taking pictures of each other, so what's taking pictures of them both?

Since, this is on the far side, they must have an orbiter to relay communications to/from the Earth and must have taken this image from orbit.
Solon
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2019
RealityCheck
"Re STARS: realize that in space there's NO atmosphere "refracting/spreading" DISTANT stars light, so stars appear even TINIER 'dots' from space than from Earth and must be specifically adjusted-for to make big enough in 'view';"

So that is why the Apollo astronauts could see no stars from space then? If so then stars will never be seen from space by eye. What about the planets then? If Venus is not visible from space, then space travel is going to be really boring visually.

Solon
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2019
RC, here's an image of the Earth and Moon from the OSIRIS-REx probe at Bennu. Over exposed and de-focused, but still very few stars, if they are indeed stars and not hot pixels.
https://www.space...oto.html
Solon
1 / 5 (1) Jan 14, 2019
RC, here's an image of the Earth and Moon from the OSIRIS-REx probe at Bennu. Over exposed and de-focused, but still very few stars, if they are indeed stars and not hot pixels.
https://www.space...oto.html
SURFIN85
not rated yet Jan 14, 2019
Pretty great accomplishment for a country where 600 million people don't have modern toilets or septic systems
unrealone1
not rated yet Jan 14, 2019
Moon temp at Night, -298 degrees Fahrenheit (-183 degrees Celsius),
Day 224 degrees Fahrenheit (106 degrees Celsius)
How does it function at -183?
Phyllis Harmonic
5 / 5 (1) Jan 15, 2019
Moon temp at Night, -298 degrees Fahrenheit (-183 degrees Celsius),
Day 224 degrees Fahrenheit (106 degrees Celsius)
How does it function at -183?


Both the lander and the rover use RTG's. This and many other details, including photometry information and video are here:
https://astrobob....g-video/

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