China lands on the Moon

China has landed its first robotic lander on the moon. This is a historic lunar mission that makes the country only the third nation to make a soft-landing on Moon.

“This is a great day for lunar science and exploration, with the first successful soft landing on the surface of the Moon since the Soviet Union did it in 1976,” said Clive Neal, a leading lunar scientist at the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences.




Image: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation

China’s Chang’e 3 moon lander and its Yutu rover, controlled from Beijing, touched down on the moon Saturday (Dec. 14) at about 8:11 a.m. EST (1311 GMT). It is the first soft-landing on the moon by any spacecraft in 37 years. The one before this was the former Soviet Union’s Luna 24 sample-return mission.

“From the widest lens, the resurgence of multi-national interest in the moon is an important signal that the moon is not an artifact of history … but a new world that’s important to our future,” said Bob Richards, co-founder of Moon Express, the private U.S. entrepreneurial group working on its own lunar lander system.




Image: CNTV

The Yutu means Jade Rabbit, the rover is named after the pet rabbit that travels with the goddess Chang’e to the moon in Chinese legends. The six-wheeled rover is a solar-powered vehicle equipped with cameras, a robotic arm tipped with science gear and a radar system attached to its underbelly.






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