In contrast with NASA's rover missions to Mars, today's successful deployment of the Yutu rover could be overseen in near real-time. As pointed out by the Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla, "Unlike on Mars, the moon rover can basically be joysticked from Earth since (communications) delay is so short." Mars landers depend on pre-programmed commands and sophisticated automated systems from descent through to landing as the time delay between Earth and Mars can be dozens of minutes (depending on orbital distance between planets). The time between commands being sent from Earth to the moon is less than two seconds.
PHOTOS: Lunar Phases: The Changing Face of the Moon
In CCTV footage of the rover deployment, many cameras showed Yutu roll out onto the deployment ramp, which slowly lowered the rover to the ground. The rover then rolled off the ramp without incident, making its first tread-marks in the lunar regolith.