A Chinese spacecraft has made history in the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon in the unexplored South Pole-Aitken basin, according to news reports.
The Chang’e 4 space probe, which includes a lander and a rover, touched down Thursday morning Beijing time in the largest, deepest crater on the moon’s surface, The Guardian reported, citing a confirmation from the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
“China’s Chang’e 4 landed on the moon’s far side, inaugurating a new chapter in mankind’s lunar exploration history,” China Daily posted on Twitter.
The Global Times, a Communist party publication, also confirmed the the China National Space Administration craft had “successfully made the first-ever soft landing” on the far side of the moon, according to a post on social media.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine acknowledged the accomplishment on social media.
“Congratulations to China’s Chang’e-4 team for what appears to be a successful landing on the far side of the Moon. This is a first for humanity and an impressive accomplishment!” Bridenstine said on social media.
The mission launched in early December and is tasked with measuring the far side of the moon’s geology, including the terrain and mineral deposits. The mission could also offer insight into the formation of Earth’s nearest neighbor.
While astronauts with NASA’s Apollo missions saw and mapped parts of the far side of the moon, Chang’e 4’s successful landing marks the first time a probe has touched down there.