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)