China’s Chang’e 3 lander and its little companion rover, Yutu, have sent back a set of truly remarkable pictures of the Moon’s surface – all in full color and hi-def resolution!  These are the first photos taken from the surface of the moon in nearly 40 years.

On December 23, 2013, the Chang’e 3 lander sent back this four-segment mosaic of Yutu (which means “Jade Rabbit” in Chinese) as it set off to study the Moon.

On December 23, 2013, the Chang'e 3 lander sent back this four-segment mosaic of Yutu (which means "Jade Rabbit" in Chinese) as it set off to study the Moon.

 

Chang’e 3 landed in a lava-filled crater, Mare Imbrium, the largest basin on the moon’s near side.  In 2014, Chang’e 3 sent back this mosiac showing Yutu’s seemingly willy-nilly tracks as it trekked across the surface of moon.

Mosiac showing Yutu's seemingly willy-nilly tracks as it trekked across the surface of moon

 

Here’s what the rocks on the moon look like up close.

Close-up of moon rocks - photo by Yutu/Chang'e 3

 

The largest rock near Chang’e 3 was named the Pyramid Rock (don’t strain yourself trying to figure out why).

The Pyramid Rock on the Moon - photo by Chang'e

 

Here’s a closer look at the Pyramid Rock.

Close-up of the Pyramid Rock on the moon

Close-up of the Pyramid Rock on the moon

After weeks in the spotlight, Yutu returned the favor and snapped this picture of Chang’e 3 on January 13, 2014.  Two days later, Yutu’s motor unit failed, stranding it about a hundred feet from its partner.

Chang'e 3 on January 13, 2014

 

Chang'e 3 on January 13, 2014

 

Sources: China National Space Administration
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