China's lunar probe leaves trace on moon

Monday, 16 December 2013 - 9:14am IST | Place: Beijing | Agency: PTI
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China's first lunar probe today successfully separated from the lander and left deep trace on its loose soil, hours after the communist giant carried out the world's first soft landing on the lunar surface in nearly 40 years.

"China's first moon rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, separated from the lander early today. The 140 kg six-wheeled rover touched the lunar surface at 4:35 a.m., leaving deep trace on the loose lunar soil," state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The process was recorded by the camera on the lander and the images were sent to the earth. After the separation, the rover and lander took photos of each other and started their own scientific explorations, the report said.

At about 11:42 p.m. Beijing Time, the six-wheeled moon rover moved to a spot about 9 metres to the north of the lander and the photographing began, it said.

Yutu will survey the moon's geological structure and surface substances and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will conduct in-situ exploration at the landing site for one year.

The landing of the probe Chang'e-3, with China's first lunar rover, marked the first time that a soft landing has been made on the moon in nearly four decades.

China's first lunar rover yesterday successfully landed on the moon, making the communist giant one of three world powers to make a soft landing as part of an ambitious programme that aims to put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

The landing was carried out 12 days after the probe blasted off on an enhanced Long March-3B carrier rocket.

It also made China one of only three nations -- after the United States and the former Soviet Union -- to soft land on the moon. A soft landing is one which does not damage the spacecraft and the equipment it carries.

"Chang'e-3 has successfully carried out a soft landing on the moon," the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a post on the mission's official page on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

Ma Xingrui, chief commander of the lunar programme, declared the success of Chang'e-3 mission at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), Xinhua reported.

The probe is equipped with shock absorbers in its four "legs" to cushion the impact of the landing, making Chang'e-3 - that includes a lander and a moon rover called "Yutu" or Jade Rabbit - the first Chinese spacecraft with "legs." The lunar probe touched down in Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, at 9:11 pm local time yesterday, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Centre.

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