December 2, 2013

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Yahoo for Yutu

image of Long March 3B rocket carrying the Chang’e-3 probe and Yutu lunar rover from English People Daily

On Sunday, China launched humanity's first return to the lunar surface in nearly 40 years. In 1976 Luna 24 successfully landed on Mare Crisium and brought back a sample of that mare's lava flows. Now China is enroute to a soft landing of the Chang’e-3 lander and Yutu lunar rover on the edge of Mare Imbrium. The small rover, nicknamed Yutu or Jade Rabbit, carries a ground penetrating radar that will look a few hundred meters through surface materials, and other instruments including spectrometers to determine soil composition. The rover is planned to operate 90 days, and although it is far too small to be seen from Earth, LRO will image it, and the 10 km it travels will occupy 15-20 pixels on the best terrestrial images. The lander also carries a UV telescope to study galaxies. Landing on the edge of Sinus Iridum is scheduled for December 14 after a direct Earth to Moon trajectory. I am happy to be alive for the next phase of lunar surface exploration. Go Chang’e-3!

Chuck Wood

Related Links
NASA story
Daily Mail Online story - many photos

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