NASA Moon orbiter tracks Chinese rover on the moon’s farside, with show photos

Chinese Chang’e 4 rover, called Yutu 2, is moved between Feb. 1 and Feb. 28, 2019. The left panel shows the landing site for the Chang’e 4 Jan. 2 touchdown; the right panel is the best-resolution pictures of the lander and rover taken. The left photo was taken six hours later. The most recent vision, in the right, it turns out that Yutu 2 crosses 150 feet (46 meters) to the west during the month of February.

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) continues to monitor the whereabouts and wanderings of China’s Yutu 2 rover on the moon is too far from the side.

In the coming months, the sun will rise higher and higher about Yutu 2’s landing site by the LRO is overhead, offering the possibility to obtain images without shadows, according to Mark Robinson, principal investigator of the LRO’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC), a three-camera system that captures high-resolution photos of the lunar surface.

Related: China Chang’e 4 Farside moon landing in Pictures

Blast zone

That next images will be particularly useful for the mapping of the differences in brightness (albedo), Robinson noted. Researchers, therefore, need to get their first good looks at the “blast zone” — the area that was brightened around Yutu 2 s companion lander as rocket exhaust interactions with the regolith, such as that seen in the near of all the other landing sites.

The tracks of the rover should also be visible in the coming months, allowing researchers to follow Yutu 2 the exact path along the floor of the Von Kármán Crater, Robinson explained.

Yutu 2 and the lander make-up of China Chang’e 4 mission, which landed in the 115 km wide (186 miles) Von Kármán Crater on the night of Jan. 2, 2019. No craft, robot or crew had ever pulled off a soft landing on the moon’s far side.

To the west of progress

LRO is about a certain place on the moon at least once per month (in daylight), making the western progress of the Yutu 2 rover to be seen.

Robinson explained that, at the end of February, Yutu 2 226 feet (69 meters) from the home, the Chang’e 4 lander. LROC images show Yutu 2 150 ft (46 m) from the west of the progress of the month of February.

Every month on the LRO images of the landing site, now called Ra Tianhe, the lighting changes, giving a different view of the area.

Around sunrise and sunset, long shadows enhance the topography, Robinson said; closer to the afternoon, differences in the brightness of the surface are clearer. In the latest LROC image, from Feb. 28, the sun is near the horizon, and the lander and rover both cast long shadows.

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