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The lander sent back images taken shortly after its touchdown as well as a photo of the rover slowly rolling across the dusty lunar surface.

China's lunar rover, Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit-2, left the first ever "footprint" from a human spacecraft on the far side of the moon late at night on Thursday, after it separated from the lander smoothly. Chang'e is the name of a Chinese goddess who, according to legend, has lived on the moon for millennia. China also wants to strengthen its position as a regional and worldwide power.

This is China's second probe to make a soft-landing on the moon, following 2013's Jade Rabbit lunar rover mission.

Hou Xiyun is a professor at Nanjing University's school of astronomy and space science. "There's no doubt that our nation will go farther and farther".

China's Chang'e 4 mission could use soil tests and temperature measurements to reveal new clues to the cataclysmic collision that created the moon and uncover the origins of the water that is unexpectedly abundant in lunar soil. Previously, the United States and the former Soviet Union were the only countries that had managed Moon landings.

It would also like to develop a moon base through several manned missions and plans to send its Chang'e 5 probe to the moon next year, which it hopes will return to Earth with samples.

The far-side landing is China's first attempt at "something that other space powers have not attempted before", Ye Quanzhi, an astronomer at Caltech, told the BBC.

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The images show Chang'e-4's work site, as the probe begins its mission to study the mineral composition and measure radiation in the region.

Yung Kai-leung with a model of the Chang'e-4's camera system.

China has released photos of its lunar rover leaving track marks on the far side of the moon after its historic landing.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported Yu's comments.

"The exploration will give us more information about the Moon than we have ever known, and that is critical", said Prof Zhu.

In May, a relay satellite "Queqiao", or "Magpie Bridge", named after an ancient Chinese folktale, was launched to provide communications support between Chang'e 4 and Earth.

Since launching its first astronaut into space in 2003, China has been on an ambitious drive to catch up with the pack led by the United States. When Beijing finally sent its first astronauts into orbit in 2003, Western observers dismissed the news as a probably pointless effort to play catch-up with the United States and Russian Federation.


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