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The Yutu-2 Rover finds that the far side of the moon is covered in sticky earth

A six-wheeled rover (Yutu-2) sits centrally on the gray background of the moon's surface.

Chinese lunar rover Yutu-2 has been exploring the far side of the Moon for three years, making it the longest lunar surface emission in history. In a paper published today in Science Robotics, the Yutu-2 team reports on the rover's progress and what it has so far revealed about the Moon's other side.

Yutu-2 landed on the Moon in January 2019 as part of Chang'e-4 mission, the first to ever land on the other side of the Moon. The mission of the mission is to study the composition of the basalt rocks on the other side of the Moon and compare these volcanic rocks with the rocks on the near side of the Moon. Since its landing, the rover has traveled about 3,300 feet and analyzed the geology of our nearest heavenly neighbor along the way.

The moon's pockmarked distant face protrudes into the darkness of space.

The new paper documents the rover's locomotive properties (as evidenced by its travel above the surface to date) as well as the scientific work of the robot's first two years on the Moon. Two points of interest actually intersect: One of the results from the recent paper is that the other side of the Moon has earth that seems a little more sticky than the earth on the nearest side. The researchers discovered this because lumps of lunar soil adhered to the wheels of the Yutu-2, suggesting that the surface on the other hand is more consolidated and clayey than on the near side.

Yutu-2 also found a lot of craters that were relatively small. Of the 88 craters documented by the team in the newspaper, 57 were less than 10 metersrs (32.8 feet) across. Only two were over 60 meters (196 feet) across. Some of these smaller craters, based on their location and size, are thought to be secondary craters of the larger ones Zhinyu crater near as the rover landed, rather than from individual influences.

There are more craters on the other side of the Moon than on the near side, but it's not because it's getting more influences. It is rather that the near side has seen more volcanic activity, which has washed craters away like a drawing on an Etch-a-Sketch.

The latest research is just the latest update from this diligent rover. Just a few months after Yutu-2 was launched, data from the rover revealed that material from the Moon's mantle was sitting on the surface of the other side. The rover's most recent performance was visiting something that from a distance looked like a "mysterious hut" but it turned out, of course, to be only a stone.

Future insights from Yutu-2 can now be compared to Moonstone brought to Earth of the Chang'e-5 mission, the successor to the one who brought this rover to the moon.

More: NASA delays lunar landing until 2025, blames Jeff Bezos and Congress

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