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China Moon Landing: Jade Rabbit Reaches Moon’s Surface

    December 15, 2013
    Val Powell
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China made history on Saturday by successfully landing its first unmanned spacecraft on the moon. The Chang’e-3  reached the moon at about 9.12 p.m Saturday and delivered “Yutu”, nicknamed “Jade Rabbit”. Yutu is a solar powered, six-wheeled robotic rover, equipped with at least four cameras and a number of  mechanical devices for sampling and analyzing the moon’s surface.

On Saturday, Zheng Yong-Chun, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences announced, “Chang’e-3 has been landed successfully on the surface of the moon today”. This means that China becomes only the third country to achieve such a feat after the United States last landed in 1972, and the former Soviet Union in 1976.

The 1-ton rover will explore the moon’s surface, studying soil samples and rocks for at least three months. The Yutu moon rover is named after a pet rabbit that journeyed to the moon with the Chinese mythological goddess named Chang’e .

The lander drifted about 100 meters in altitude above the lunar landscape as it searched for a safe landing spot. The spacecraft eventually landed in the Sinus Iridum (known as the Bay of Rainbows) located on the northern hemisphere of the moon.

The lander also features a scientific gear that can observe the Earth and other celestial objects over the next 12 months. China is also expected to open a permanent space station in the Earth’s orbit, within the next decade.

Watch the Chinese blast off to the moon

(image via YouTube)