China reaches dark side of the Moon

An unmanned probe has touched down on the lunar surface for a historic mission

The Chang’e-6 lunar lander landed in the Apollo crater, located in the South Pole-Aitkin impact basin on the far side of the Moon, on 1 June 2024, at 22:23 UTC (2 June, at 06:23 China Standard Time). Credit: China National Space Administration (CNSA) Music: Blue Danube by Strauss courtesy of YouTube Audio Library

China’s unmanned Chang’e 6 spacecraft has successfully landed on the Moon in a landmark mission to collect soil and rock samples from the far side of Earth’s natural satellite, the China National Space Administration has announced. The probe landed in a pre-selected area in the northeastern part of the South Pole-Aitken basin at 6:23am Beijing time on Sunday.

The lander is expected to go through initial checks and then start gathering samples from the lunar surface using its robotic arm. If successfully returned, it would provide scientists with the first samples from the Moon’s little-explored dark hemisphere, which always faces away from the Earth.