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China broadcasts spacecraft pictures from moon’s far side

Pictures show a rocky surface with jagged edge of craters in the background

The screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre shows the lander of the Chang’e-4 probe, right, and the Jade Rabbit 2 rover taking photos of each other.(Jin Liwang/Xinhua via Associated Press)

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.

“From the panorama, we can see the probe is surrounded by lots of small craters, which was really thrilling,” Li was quoted as saying.

China’s plans to dominate space

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

Researchers hope 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.

Photo provided Jan. 4 by China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency shows Yutu-2, China’s lunar rover, leaving the lander that touched down on the surface of the far side of the moon. (China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency/Associated Press)

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