Chinese spacecraft lands on the moon

Saturday 14 December 2013 22.09
The Chang'e-3, a probe named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, is carrying the solar-powered Yutu, or Jade Rabbit buggy, which will dig and conduct geological surveys
The Chang'e-3, a probe named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, is carrying the solar-powered Yutu, or Jade Rabbit buggy, which will dig and conduct geological surveys

A Chinese spacecraft has landed successfully on the moon. This is the first such soft-landing since 1976.

It has joined the US and the former Soviet Union in managing to accomplish such a feat.

China Central Television broadcast images of the Chang'e-3 probe's location and a computer generated image of the probe on the surface of the moon. 

The Chang'e-3, a probe named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, is carrying the solar-powered Yutu, or Jade Rabbit buggy, which will dig and conduct geological surveys.

China has been increasingly ambitious in developing its space programmes, for military, commercial and scientific purposes.

In its most recent manned space mission in June, three astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with an experimental space laboratory, part of Beijing's quest to build a working space station by 2020.

The official Xinhua news service reported that the spacecraft had touched down in the Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows.

It touched down at 9.12pm (1312 GMT) after hovering over the surface for several minutes seeking an appropriate place to land.

A soft landing does not damage the craft and the equipment it carries. 

In 2007, China put another lunar probe in orbit around the moon, which then executed a controlled crash on to its surface.

The Bay of Rainbows was selected because it has yet to be studied, has ample sunlight and is convenient for remote communications with Earth, Xinhua said.

The rover will be remotely controlled by Chinese control centres with support from a network of tracking and transmission stations around the world operated by the European Space Agency (ESA).

The probe and the rover are expected to photograph each other tomorrow.

Keywords: china, moon