Chinese Mission Lands on the Moon
16 December 2013

NASA astronaut Jim Irwin with the Moon rover on the surface of the Moon

Credit: NASA

After entering Moon orbit, on 6 December 2013, the Chinese space mission Chang’e 3 landed successfully on the Moon, on 14 December. This is the first spacecraft to softly land on our satellite, since the Soviet Luna 24 spacecraft in 1976. Intriguingly, since Luna 24, there have been lunar missions, such as NASA’s Lunar Prospector, a Moon-orbiting spacecraft, which were deliberately crashed on the Moon.

The Chang’e 3 mission comprises a massive lunar lander, weighing 1,200 kg, and a 120-kg, six-wheeled Moon rover, which will study the Moon’s surface, and make observations of the lunar sky. It was named after the mythological Chinese lunar deity. It comes after the successful Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 probes, which mapped the Moon, from lunar orbits, in the period between 2007 and 2012.

Interestingly, China has planned the 2017 Chang’e 5, a lunar sample return mission.


Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist

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