Late on Thursday evening, the Chinese space agency posted an image of its new lunar rover as it rolled off its lander and headed off to explore the far side of the moon.
We have gotten images of the far side of the moon before, but only from space. In 1959 the U.S.S.R.'s Luna 3 spacecraft took the first ever photos of the far side of the moon. This Chinese rover, dubbed the Jade Rabbit 2, is the first to ever travel on this half of the lunar surface.
Despite commonly being referred to as the "dark side" of the moon, the side of the moon facing away from the earth gets the same amount of sunlight as our side does. However, getting signals to and from that side of the moon can be tricky. In order to overcome this obstacle, China will rely on a relay satellite orbiting beyond the moon to communicate with the rover.
The Jade Rabbit 2 might be the first, but it isn't heading into the unknown empty handed. The six-wheeled vehicle is carrying a mini biosphere with a live potato, rapeseed and arabidopsis plants, a fruit fly, cotton, and some yeast. The arabidopsis plant is expected to grow the first flower on the moon in this biosphere, in order to determine how a living organism would react in such an environment. Any theoretical permanent settlement on the moon would presumably need to grow its own