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Jason DavisJanuary 11, 2019

Chang'e-4 update: Both vehicles healthy, new imagery from the Moon’s far side

Everything is going well 9 days after China's Chang'e-4 mission made a historic landing on the far side of the Moon, the country's space program said today. On 6 January, the Yutu-2 rover started a planned midday nap to avoid overheating while the Sun was directly overhead. Yesterday, it woke up and continued exploring its surroundings. Additionally, a fresh batch of images and video are revealing more about the mission's landing site within Von Kármán crater.

News brief

China's lunar and deep space exploration program, CLEP, reports both the Chang'e-4 lander and Yutu-2 rover are healthy, and "Chinese and foreign scientific loads were working normally [Translated]." Here are portraits of each vehicle on the surface; unfortunately, neither of these released by CLEP are full-resolution based on what we know about the camera specs:

Yutu-2 as seen from Chang'e-4

CNSA / CLEP

Yutu-2 as seen from Chang'e-4
Chang'e-4 imaged the Yutu-2 rover in early January 2019 using its Terrain Camera (TCAM).
Chang'e-4 lander as seen from Yutu-2

CNSA / CLEP

Chang'e-4 lander as seen from Yutu-2
Yutu-2 imaged the Chang'e-4 lander in early January 2019 using its Panoramic Camera (PCAM).

The lander also completed a 360-degree panorama:

Chang’e-4’s first complete panorama

CNSA / CLEP

Chang’e-4’s first complete panorama
Chang’e 4 views its landing site, including the Yutu-2 rover just to the south, in the first panorama taken after landing, on 10 January 2019.

We're also seeing some more previously unreleased goodies, including this amazing video of the landing:

This video shows Chang'e-4's descent into Von Kármán crater on 3 January 2019. Touchdown occured at 10:26 Beijing time (02:26 UTC, 22:26 EST 2 January). The video was captured using Chang'e-4's Landing Camera (LCAM).

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CNSA / CLEP

Here are two videos Yutu-2 being deployed and rolling on the surface. Thanks to China space program reporter Andrew Jones for helping us find the source files for these!

This video shows China's Yutu-2 rover rolling off the Chang'e-4 lander in Von Kármán crater on 3 January 2019.

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CNSA / CLEP / processed by Emily Lakdawalla

This video shows China's Yutu-2 rover rolling across the lunar surface after its initial deployment from Chang'e-4.

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CNSA / CLEP

And a screenshot showing where the rover apparently roved thus far:

Here's apparently the current location of the Yutu-2 rover with respect to the lander and the journey is has made so far. pic.twitter.com/gzuSizrjsv

— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) January 11, 2019

We will update this post with additional images and video, and better-quality versions as we find them!

Read more: Chang'e 4, the Moon

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Jason Davis

Editorial Director for The Planetary Society
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