China reaches for the Moon
December 13, 2013 7:14 AM Subscribe
posted by Brandon Blatcher (66 comments total)
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This Saturday, the Jade Rabbit will meet with Chang’e when China attempts its first landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon
vary on why Chang’e
(Goddess of the Moon) left Earth, but she is notable for being the only lunar deity that actually lives there. Her only companion is Yutu
(the Jade Rabbit), who is pounding ingredients for rice cakes. The myth was mentioned to the Apollo 11 crew
, who said they’d keep an eye out for her.
Chang’e is also the name of a series of Chinese lunar spacecraft. Chang’e 1
, launched in 2007, created the most accurate map of the Moon’s surface
. In 2010, Chang’e 2 was launched to closely orbit the Moon, then departed to study the ginger root shaped asteroid Toutatis.
Later, it ventured further into deep space to further test China’s deep space tracking, communications and control system.
Chang’e 3 was launched
on December 2nd of this year
and is part of the second phase of China’s Lunar Exploration Program
. After entering lunar orbit on December 6th, it has been slowly migrating to its descent burn point and is supposed to land at 15:22-15:35 UTC (10:22-10:35am EST) on the plains of the Bay of Rainbows
Once landed, a rover named Yutu ( Jade Rabbit)
will roll down a ramp and begin its 3 month exploration of the lunar surface. Aboard Yutu are several instruments and cameras
designed to substantially increase knowledge of the lunar crust and soil.