A Chinese probe has made a historic touch-down on the far side of the Moon, according to the country’s state-run media. It is the first time a probe has visited the region, 60 years after an orbiter gave humans their first look at the area.
Chang’e-4 reportedly landed inside the Von Kármán Crater at 2:26 UTC on 3 January. The 2,500 kilometre-wide basin is thought to be the oldest of the Moon’s large, deep impact basins, and it is the only such feature on the orb’s far side. Studying the basin has long been a top priority in Solar-System studies. It is thought to have formed when a large asteroid hit the Moon towards the beginning of the Late Heavy Bombardment, around 3.8 billion years ago.
Chang’e-4 and its 6-wheeled rover carry instruments that will do a range of experiments, including radio measurements of the early Universe. Chang’e 4 also carries a small, climate-controlled environment with potato and Arabidopsis seeds and silkworm cocoons.