China’s space agency has revealed images of the exploration vehicle with which it hopes to reach the far side of the Moon by the end of this year, a feat no country has ever accomplished, the media reported on Thursday. In December, the vehicle will travel aboard the unmanned lunar probe Chang’e 4, which is expected to land in the Aitken basin on the far side of the Moon, not visible from the Earth, Efe news reported. The vehicle is similar to Yutu, China’s first lunar rover launched in 2013 along with Chang’e 3, which continues to traverse the visible side of the Moon, according to a report in the China Daily.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China’s lunar probe programme, said that the new explorer was more adaptable to complicated terrain than Yutu. The rover was also the lightest of its kind in the world, weighing only 140 kg (309 pounds), much less than its predecessors, he added.
The rectangular box-shaped rover will have six wheels, two solar panels for power, a radar and multiple cameras to explore the lesser-known side of the Moon. Pioneering space programmes earlier had photographed the far side of the Moon over half a century ago but could never manage to land there.
In May, China took the first step of this mission with the launch of a satellite to facilitate communications between the Moon and control centres on Earth.