Asian Scientist (Dec. 16, 2013) – China’s Yutu moon rover has started exploring the surface of the moon, sending back the first photos it has taken on the moon hours after the Chang’e-3 lunar probe soft landed on the moon surface on Saturday.
As reported by the state-run Xinhua news agency, China’s first lunar rover and the lander took pictures of each other near mid-night on Sunday, marking the success of the country’s Chang’e-3 lunar probe mission.
Yutu, which is designed to have a life span of three months, will conduct geographic surveys. In ancient Chinese mythology, Yutu is the white pet rabbit of the lunar goddess Chang’e.
The rover will analyze major elements on the lunar surface and study energy and mineral resources along its route. A radar system attached to the bottom of the rover can probe up to 100 meters beneath the lunar surface.
The 140-kilogram, six-wheeled rover touched the lunar surface at 4:35 am on Sunday, leaving deep tracks on the loose lunar soil. A camera on the lander recorded the process and the images were sent to Earth, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
The Chang’e-3 probe landed on the moon on Saturday night, making China the first nation to do so in nearly four decades.
The last soft landing took place on Aug 18, 1976, with Luna-24, a spacecraft of the former Soviet Union.
Source: China Daily; Photo: Xinhua.
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