China ‘lifts mysterious veil’ with probe landing on dark side of the moon


FILE PHOTO: A Long March-3B rocket carrying Chang’e 4 lunar probe takes off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, China December 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese space probe successfully touched down on the far side of the moon on Thursday, state media said, hailing it as an historic first landing on a mission seen as an important step for China’s space program.

Chinese state television said the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, launched in December, made the “soft landing” at 0226 GMT and transmitted the first-ever “close range” image of the dark side of the moon.

The moon is tidally locked to Earth, rotating at the same rate that it orbits our planet, so the far side – or the “dark side” – is never visible from Earth. Previous spacecraft have seen the far side of the moon but none has landed on it.

The landing “lifted the mysterious veil” from the far side of the moon, and “opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration”, the broadcaster said.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Paul Tait

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