China’s first lunar rover landed on the moon Saturday, less than two weeks after it blasted off from Earth.

The landing makes China one of only three nations —
after the United States and the former Soviet Union —
to “soft-land” on the moon’s surface, and the first to
do so in more than three decades.
Chang’e-3, an unmanned spacecraft, will release
Jade Rabbit (called Yutu in Chinese) — a six-wheeled
lunar rover equipped with at least four cameras and
two mechanical legs that can dig up soil samples to a
depth of 30 meters.
The solar-powered rover will patrol the moon’s
surface, studying the structure of the lunar crust as
well as soil and rocks, for at least three months. The
robot’s name was decided by a public online
poll and comes from a Chinese myth about
the pet white rabbit of a goddess, Chang’e,
who is said to live on the moon.
Weighing 140 kilograms, the slow-moving
rover carries an optical telescope for
astronomical observations and a powerful
ultraviolet camera that will monitor how solar
activity affects the various layers —
troposphere, stratosphere and ionosphere —
that make up the Earth’s atmosphere, China’s
information technology ministry said in a
statement.
The Jade Rabbit is also equipped with radioisotope
heater units, allowing it to function during the cold
lunar nights when temperatures plunge as low as
-180°C (-292°F).

China’s space program
China has rapidly built up its space program since it
first sent an astronaut into space in 2003. In 2012, the
country conducted 18 space launches, according to
the Pentagon.
The Chang’e-3 mission constitutes the second phase
of China’s moon exploration program, which includes
orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.
In 2010, China captured images of the landing site for
the 2013 probe, the Bay of Rainbows, which is
considered to be one of the most picturesque parts of
the moon.

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written by Anthony

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