China's Chang'e 4 mission has been a rousing success for the country's space agency, and it's already celebrated a number of "firsts," including being the first lander to perform soft landing on the far side of the Moon.
The far side of the Moon – that is, the side that we never see here on Earth when we look at the skyward – has not been studied in as great a detail as its near side. One of the things scientists were eager to observe is just how chilly the lander and its rover would get when enduring the lunar night, and now we finally know.
Speaking with China's Xinhua news group, researchers from the China National Space Administration revealed that temperatures recorded by the machines are significantly lower than predicted. It got as cold as -310 degrees Fahrenheit (-190 degrees Celsius) during the lunar night.
These frigid temps are lower than the other missions found on the opposite side of the Moon, and Chinese scientists believe that the composition of the surface may play a role.
"It's probably due to the difference in the lunar soil composition between the two sides of the moon," CNSA's Zhang He told Xinhua.
The Chang'e 4 lander and its rover companion have already accomplished a lot in their short time on the Moon's surface, but their work has not been done yet. The machines will continue to make observations of the lunar surface as well as cosmic radiation and space weather.
The biggest challenge for China moving forward will be the successful completion of its Chang'e 5 mission, which will send a lander to Moon's surface to grab a sample of its material before heading back to Earth. That mission is still far away, but China's space agency has been moving in a breakneck pace since late, and it is expected to begin before the end of the year.