China's lunar rover Jade Rabbit and lander have started sending back pictures of each other, marking the first time a rover has landed on the moon's surface in nearly 40 years.
The lander began its descent Saturday, December 14, and touched down safely on the lunar surface. It was several hours before the rover exited the lander and sent pictures of the lander once it was on the surface. The landing is part of China's unmanned Chang'e-3 mission and is a milestone in the country's ambition to send a manned mission to the moon.
Ma Xingrui, chief commander of China's lunar program, declared the mission a "complete success".
The rover can be seen slowly rolling down a ramp onto the lunar surface to begin a three month mission to explore lunar rocks and soil. The rover has landed in a large volcano flat called Sinus Iridium, which is part of the Mare Imbrium that forms the right eye of the "man in the moon."
Equipped with cameras, ground-penetrating radar and a robotic arm, the rover will explore the lunar surface to collect data on its geological history.
The last unmanned lunar rover to land on the moon was a Soviet vehicle known as Lunokhod-2, which landed in 1976.