New Panoramas Of Moon’s Far Side Revealed by China’s Yutu-2 Lunar Rover

Check out these brand new images from the far side of the Moon, courtesy of the Chinese lunar rover Yutu-2 that has been operating on the lunar surface for nearly 2 years.

Far from the coronavirus worries and problems of the Earth, the Chinese lunar rover Yutu-2 continues to provide more and more footage from the far unexplored side of the Moon.

The lunar rover has already started its 24th lunar day, which, if you don’t know, is an absolute record for the time spent by any machine on our natural satellite.

Image of the Chinese lunar rover Yutu-2. Credit: CNSA/CLEP
Image of the Chinese lunar rover Yutu-2. Credit: CNSA/CLEP

Also, if you don’t know, one day on the moon equals about two weeks on Earth, and Yutu-2 has been operating there since January 3, 2019. Equally, one night on the Moon also equals that amount of time which simply means that Yutu-2 is active on 14-day shifts if I can say it in such a simple way. 

During this 14-day rest time, a drive diary that keeps track of all activities of the rover is published, each time revealing new fascinating images of the Moon’s far side. This time, the stunning photographs included panoramas of the Von Karman crater.

Currently, Yutu-2 has a targeted rock it needs to reach during this 24th lunar day. It was unable to reach its target during the previous run which leaves us with images of the official target and the route planning that it should execute. The abundance of new images from the past year and more have allowed the software team to utilize the technological capabilities of 3D mapping in order to make the travel path of the rover significantly easier and safer.

The largest panorama released by the Chinese. What we know is that this is an older photograph from the time when the Yutu-2 rover was still close to the Chang'e 4 lander. Credit: CNSA/CLEP
The largest panorama released by the Chinese. What we know is that this is an older photograph from the time when the Yutu-2 rover was still close to the Chang’e 4 lander. Credit: CNSA/CLEP

All released images by the China National Space Administration will be included throughout this article but I would like to focus your attention to this old high-resolution panorama from the beginning of the Chang’e 4 mission last year. I am unaware why it took them so long to release this particular image but it truly is remarkable that we are able to see the far side of the moon. The image, of course, is from close to the original landing spot in the Von Karman Crater.

Marked in green is the target that needs to be reached by the Yutu-2 rover. Credit: CLEP
Marked in green is the target that needs to be reached by the Yutu-2 rover. Credit: CLEP

As a whole, I would like to congratulate the Chinese space program for their absolute success with the Chang’e 4 mission. Perhaps you don’t know but the duration of the mission was supposed to be about a year and three months. At least, this was the calculated lifetime based on the design of the lander and Yutu-2 rover. Obviously, the two have been standing strong for much longer – 23 lunar days which also equals close to 700 days on Earth.

Even more interesting is the new Chang’e 5 mission that is currently in its final days before the official launch. China has been preparing quietly without drawing too much attention and the official plans are for it to launch before the end of November.

This time in yellow, you can see the rock target. In red is the route planning for the movement. This image comes from the navigation camera of the rover. Credit: CLEP
This time in yellow, you can see the rock target. In red is the route planning for the movement. This image comes from the navigation camera of the rover. Credit: CLEP

What’s important for Chang’e 5 is that it will not have the same purpose as the previous mission which continues to this day. On the contrary, plans include a return with two kilograms of lunar samples, something that has not happened since the 1970s. This will be a major step forward in understanding our natural satellite better. Until then, we will continue to enjoy more and more new images provided by Yutu-2.

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