Piping hot and fresh from China's Chang'e 4 mission.
China's Lunar Exploration Program has released a ton of new data gathered by the Chang'e 4 mission during its first and second lunar days. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) dropped more than 12,000 files on January 3, all collected by the lander and rover's five scientific payloads. CNSA later released a bundle of hi-res files.
China's space agency has ambitious plans for the moon, and hopes to establish a permanent presence there by the 2030s. The agency was the first to land on the dark side of the moon, when the Chang'e 4 lander successfully touched down on the lunar surface on January 3, 2019.
The accompanying lander, Yutu-2, rolled out on the moon shortly after landing on the surface, and set out to make a number of important scientific observations. Last July, Yutu-2 discovered a mysterious substance on the lunar surface, intriguing planetary scientists around the world.
Now, amateur and professional astronomers are working to process this data, and so far, the images are breathtaking. Doug Ellison, an engineering camera payload uplink lead at NASA, and astronomer Ye Quanzhi of the University of Maryland, posted some of the processed images to Twitter. Here are a few of the coolest.