The Chinese space agency has made its library of high-resolution images of the moon available to the public for the first time.
Hundreds of images released this week show the incredibly uneventful, yet spectacular, lunar surface in detail and are some of the best pictures of the moon available.
China National Space Administration (CNSA) lifted the veil of government secrecy to showcase the wealth of images and video clips captured by its Chang’e 3 lunar lander and Yutu rover.
Chang’e touched down on the lunar surface in December 2013, and was the first craft to soft land on moon in almost 40 years.
Along with its Yutu ‘Jade Rabbit’ rover it has amassed a wealth of information, despite the rover grinding to a halt within weeks on the surface.
The suite of images show the fine lunar dust, which makes operating on the surface so difficult. The powder-fine rock dust gets everywhere and can clog instruments and can even become charged with thousands of volts of static electricity.
A release of this volume of images and data is uncommon for the agency, unlike its European, US and even Japanese counterparts, which regularly release data.
While the CNSA website is difficult to navigate – not to mention entirely in Chinese – the US Planetary Society has reposted the images from both Yutu and Chang’e 3 in accessible formats.