The Chinese space agency has released its first panoramic image of the lunar location where it landed spacecraft this month.
The picture shows parts of the static lander and the robotic rover, which is now exploring the landing site at Von Kármán crater on the Moon’s far side.
The Chang’e-4 mission was the first such attempt to touch down on the side of the Moon that we don’t see.
The rover has just awoken from a period on “standby”.
Controllers placed it in this mode shortly after the touchdown as a precaution against high temperatures, as the Sun rose to its highest point over the landing site.
Those temperatures were expected to reach around 200C. But the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) said that the Yutu 2 rover, its lander and the relay satellite were all in a “stable condition”.
CLEP, which released the images, said in a statement: “Researchers completed the preliminary analysis of the lunar surface topography around the landing site based on the image taken by the landing camera.”
Chinese state television has also apparently released a picture from Yutu 2 of the static lander.
In contrast with previous images from the landing site, the panoramic image has been colour-corrected by Chinese researchers to better reflect the colours we would see if we were standing there.
Online commentators had pointed out that these earlier, unprocessed images made the lunar landscape look reddish – a far cry from the gunpowder grey landscapes familiar from other missions to the surface.
In an article for The Conversation, Prof Dave Rothery, from the Open University in Milton Keynes, observed: “In the raw version, the lunar surface looks red because the detectors used were more sensitive to red than they were to blue or green.”
Chang’e-4 was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in China on 7 December. It