The Chinese space agency's deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of China’s Chang'e 4 spacecraft.
China became the first country to successfully land a probe on the far side of the Moon when Chang’e 4 reached the lunar surface on Jan. 2.
Chinese space officials, in turn, shared the time and coordinates of Chang'e 4's scheduled landing, Wu told reporters during a briefing on the lunar mission. He added that while NASA's satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward.
Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the national space agency, speaks during a press conference held in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Wu said Monday that NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang'e 4 spacecraft.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
The data exchange is the first such collaboration since an American law banned joint space projects with China that do not have prior congressional approval. The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 U.S. law was enacted.
Fox News has reached out to NASA with a request for comment on this story.
The Moon's far side is also known as the dark side because it faces away from Earth and remains comparatively unknown, with a different composition from sites on the near side, where previous missions have landed.
Last week China released new pictures showing the Jade Rabbit 2 rover and the Chang'e 4 spacecraft that transported it to the Moon. Among the images is a stunning 360-degree panorama stitched together from 80 photos taken by a camera on the lander after it released the rover onto the lunar surface.
Researchers have already completed a preliminary analysis of the lunar surface topography around the landing site based on the image, according to a statement released by China’s Lunar and Deep Space Exploration (CLEP).
The space administration also released a 12-minute video of Chang'e 4's landing utilizing more than 4,700 images taken by an onboard camera. The probe is shown adjusting its altitude, speed and pitch as it seeks to avoid obstacles on the ground.
The mission demonstrates China’s growing ambitions as a space power to rival Russia, the European Union and the U.S.
In 2013, China became just the third country, after the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union, to successfully “soft land” on the Moon when its Chang'e 3 lander reached the lunar surface.
The U.S. is the only country to have placed astronauts on the Moon, having last done so in December 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission. Only 12 men, all Americans, have set foot on the Moon.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing and lunar missions continue to be a source of fascination for all segments of the population.
A checklist that traveled to the surface of the Moon with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin recently sold at auction in New York for $62,500. In the same auction, three tiny Moon rocks brought back from space by the unmanned Soviet Luna-16 mission were sold for $855,000.
Dec. 21, 2018 also marked the 50th anniversary of the momentous Apollo 8 launch. During a series of historic lunar orbits, NASA astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders became the first humans to see the far side of the Moon.
Fox News ‘ Edmund DeMarche, Chris Ciaccia and the Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers