China just landed a spacecraft on the moon’s far side. Here’s what the probe will teach us.

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By Denise Chow and David Freeman

China’s historic landing of a spacecraft on the far side of the moon spotlights the nation’s growing abilities as a space power and sets the stage for new discoveries about this never-before-visited region of the lunar surface.

“This is a major accomplishment,” said Carle Pieters, a planetary scientist at Brown University. “This really opens up a whole part of the moon that hasn’t been explored in detail.”

The robotic Chang’e 4 probe touched down at 10:26 a.m. local time in Beijing, landing within the South Pole-Aitken basin, a vast crater near the moon’s south pole. Shortly after landing, the rover beamed back its first photo of the lunar surface and released a small rover that will roam the landing area.

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