China's Chang'e-6 probe lands on moon's far side, state-run media report

China's state-run media say the country's unmanned lunar probe touched down on the far side of the moon on Sunday morning.

China Central Television reported that the Chang'e-6, which was launched early last month, began the descent shortly after 6 a.m., Beijing time, and successfully landed about 15 minutes later.

Chinese space authorities released footage purportedly taken by the Chang'e-6 as it landed.

The landing area is near the lunar south pole. Scientists say there may be ice on the far side of the moon that could be turned into drinking water and fuel.

The Chang'e-6 is maintaining communication with Earth through a relay satellite. Chinese officials say the probe will aim to collect soil and rock samples for about two days from Sunday. These would be the first samples to be brought back to Earth from the far side of the moon.

The mission aims to pave the way for establishing a lunar base where astronauts can stay.

The United States and India are also exploring areas near the moon's south pole.

Observers say China apparently hopes to enhance its presence in lunar exploration and development through the sample-return mission.