China’s Chang’e 4 lunar probe landed on the dark side of the moon on Thursday, state-run media reported. This is the first time any spacecraft has landed on the far side of the moon.

“The probe, comprising a lander and a rover, landed at the pre-selected landing area at 177.6 degrees east longitude and 45.5 degrees south latitude on the far side of the moon at 10.26 am Beijing time [7.56 am Indian Standard Time],” Xinhua reported, quoting the China National Space Administration.

The People’s Daily tweeted that the probe sent the first close shot of the far side of the moon via the Queqiao relay satellite after landing.

China had launched the probe on December 8. The probe intends to “gain first-hand information about the terrain and lunar soil components and other scientific data, which will help enrich our understanding of the moon and the universe”, Zhang He, executive director of the Chang’e-4 probe project, had said.

The probe is expected to explore low-frequency radio signals emanating from the far side of the moon, survey the terrain and land forms, detect the mineral composition of the surface and measure neutron radiation to understand the environment on the satellite’s far side. Three scientific and technological experiments will also be carried out.

The former Soviet Union was the first country to launch a space probe, Luna 3, to explore the far side of the moon, in 1959. The United States’ Apollo 8 mission sent three astronauts to fly around the moon in 1968, including around its far side. But no probe had yet landed on the moon’s dark side.