April 3, 2011
Nov. 2010 image of Premier Wen Jiabao and closeup of Sinus Iridum from Magic-UFO Forum
China has announced that the Chang'e-2 spacecraft has successfully completed 6 months in lunar orbit. It may be a surprise to most people that there are two active spacecraft orbiting the Moon. Although we are delighted by the continuing releases of all of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images, virtually none of the Chang'e ones are available. It is tempting to say that the failure to share images is a trait of a closed society, but democratic India has done essentially the same thing, so I think it is a failure to appreciate the public relations value of technological success. A second factor may be that China and India have only a handful of lunar scientists and they may want to preserve their data for their scientists to catch up with the West. I must admit that my awareness of what pictures have been released is limited to what the English language version of Google finds. In fact, one of the largest collections of Chang'e-2 images I've found comes from a UFO website. A more official and slightly bigger collection (but still only 11 images) is here. I have just found a google-maps like version of a lunar chart with nomenclature in Chinese characters. I think this may be based on the Chang'e-1 lunar mapping. Does anyone know? And are there any more Chang'e-2 images, especially ones taken from 15 km altitude of its elliptical orbit? I don't know why China hides it successes.
PS - I just found 20 more images (small) including some slow flyovers. China's space agency may just need to hire a good public relations firm.
Yesterday's LPOD: 16° of Libration
Tomorrow's LPOD: A Highly Featured Hole in the Ground