A Chinese space rotor explored on Friday the lunar field in the world's first mission on the side of the moon.
Jade Rabbit 2 drove a ramp the previous night and on the soft, thin surface after a Chinese spacecraft made the first soft landing on the far side of the moon. A photo posted online by China's space agency showed pieces left by the rover as they headed from the space ship.
"It's a small step for Rover but a huge leap for the Chinese nation," said Wu Weiren, chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project, for CCTV state television, in a twist of the famous American astronaut Neil Armstrong , when he became the first man to go to the moon in 1969. "This huge leap is a decisive move for exploring our space and for conquering the universe."
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Landings before the moon, including the six US missions between 1969 and 1972, were on the immediate side of the Moon, which faces the Earth. The distant part has been observed several times in the lunar orbits, but has never been explored on the surface.
China's space community boasts a successful landing, which is technical challenges because the moon blocks direct communication between the spacecraft and its Earth controllers. China has tried to catch up with the United States and other nations in space exploration.
"Remote landing shows China's technology is strong," said He Qisong, a space expert at Shanghai University of Science and Law.
While China's space program still remains in America, he said: "China has already positioned at least as good as Russia and the European Union."
The news has told people the streets of Beijing Friday, many of whom said it has shown that China can achieve or even surpass what the United States has done.
"I think this is a very good proof that we are now able to compete with the Americans," said Yao Dajun, an energy company employee. "You can reach the Moon and we can do it … I think it is very good. This means that our ability to science and technology is becoming stronger and the country is becoming stronger."
The news inspired dreams for employee advertising Shang Yuegang. "Probably, after a few years, ordinary people like us can also travel there to take a look," he said.
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The Chinese Rover has six motorized wheels, allowing it to continue operating even if a wheel fails. It has a maximum speed of 200 meters (220 meters) per hour and can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall.
"The surface is soft and it is similar to what you do when you're walking on snow," said Shen Zhenrong, a China-based designer from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, to CCTV.
Exploring the cosmos from the distant part of the moon could eventually help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and even about the birth of the first stars of the universe. The distant part is popularly called the "dark side," because it can not be seen on Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it has no sunlight.
Ken Moritsugu, The Associated Press
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