SPACE.com Columnist Leonard David

China's Rover on the Far Side of the Moon Is Heading for New Lunar Territory

China's Chang’e 4 lander on the lunar far side, as observed by the mission's Yutu 2 rover.
China's Chang’e 4 lander on the lunar far side, as observed by the mission's Yutu 2 rover.
(Image: © CNSA/CLEP)

"Over the past 60 years, we've made a lot of achievements," Wu said, "but there is still a large distance from the world space powers. We must speed up our pace."

"At the end of this year, we are going to launch the Chang'e 5 probe," Wu said in the CCTV interview. "It will take samples on the moon surface and return to the Earth. China will become the third country that is capable of such a task after the United States and Russia. Next year, we will launch a Mars probe, which will orbit around Mars, land on it and probe it."

Rover nap, sleep session

Yutu 2 and the Chang'e 4 lander launched together on Dec. 8, 2018, and on Jan. 2 made the first-ever soft landing on the lunar far side. The mission touched down on the floor of Von Karman Crater, inside the huge South Pole-Aitken Basin.

The lunar rover had a nap in January, started its second sleep on Feb. 11, and reawakened on Feb. 28. "Currently, it is in normal condition," said Wu.

Each lunar night is 14 Earth days long. During these dark stretches, temperatures on the moon's surface can drop to minus 310 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 190 degrees Celsius), "a temperature that all components, parts and electronic components cannot stand," Wu explained. "So, we let it sleep for a while, ensuring it to spend the night safely."

Related: China's Chang'e 4 Moon Farside Mission in Pictures

The Yutu 2 rover, photographed by the Chang'e 4 lander.

(Image: © CNSA/CLEP)

According to a CGTN story, Wu added that "the road condition is not good with potholes and obstacles on it. But please rest assured we will ensure its safety."

Wu took part in opening the second session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on Sunday (March 3).

Leonard David is author of the forthcoming book, "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" to be published by National Geographic in May 2019. A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us @Spacedotcom or Facebook. This version of the story published on Space.com.

Have a news tip, correction or comment? Let us know at community@space.com.