Chinese Spacecraft Enters Moon Orbit
07 December 2013


 The image shows NASA’s Eagle spacecraft over the Moon. Blue Earth, half-lit, is visible in the background, above the lunar horizon.

On 2 December 2013, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) launched its Moon-bound spacecraft Chang’e 3, consisting a robotic lander and a rover. On 6 December, Chang’e 3 successfully entered lunar orbit, in preparation for a controlled lunar landing, scheduled later this month. This would be the first soft landing on the Moon, in 37 years, since the Soviet Luna 24 mission. Interestingly, Chang’e is the name of the goddess of the Moon, in Chinese mythology.

Chang’e 3 was launched aboard a Chinese Long March rocket. The lander weighs 1,200 kg, and is equipped with cameras and a set of devices, to study the lunar surface. The cameras will also obtain images of the lunar skies, showing Earth and other cosmic objects. The rover, known as Yutu (Jade Rabbit), is a 120-kg, six-wheeled vehicle, which will study the lunar surface, for 3 months. It is expected to travel up to a maximum distance of 10 km.

Chang’e 3 follows the Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 missions, which the studied the Moon, from lunar orbits, during the period between 2007 and 2012.


Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist   

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