Yutu starts 3-month lunar survey [Global Times]
(Global Times Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) According to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), the latest photos transmitted to the Earth marked the first time that China's national flag was captured on both the Jade Rabbit and the lander. The rover has started its three-month survey mission of the moon's geological structure and surface substances. It will look for natural resources, while the lander will conduct in situ exploration at the landing site for one year, according to SASTIND. The first photo-taking operation of the moon rover and lander probe was carried out on December 15, after the probe's soft-landing on December 14. But only the national flag on the rover was seen, since the one on the lander was not facing the camera at that time.The moon rover then circled the lander. They took another three photos of each other at 60-degree intervals. The rover had a "noon break" from December 16 till Friday, during which time its subsystems were shut down to deal with direct solar radiation with the temperatures exceeding 100 degrees centigrade. It will also handle temperatures below zero when night falls on the moon. One day on the moon lasts 28 Earth days."The break had been planned to last until Monday, but scientists decided to restart the rover now for more research time, based on the recent observations and telemetry parameters," Pei Zhaoyu, spokesman for the lunar program was quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency. Pang Zhihao, a space expert, told the Global Times that the photo-shooting operation served as a warm-up test for seven of the eight exploratory devices on the Chang'e-3 before more exploratory operations. "By taking photos of each other, the camera performance of the rover and lander could be examined and as they sent their images back to Earth, the communication systems would be checked. Besides, the rover's moonwalk also tested the control center back home as researchers controlled the rover's movement," Pang said. Pang added that the exhibition of images of the five-star red flags on Chang'e-3 could increase the nation's influence. The Chang'e-3 mission makes China the third country, after the Soviet Union and the US, to soft-land a spacecraft on lunar soil. It also marks the full completion of the second phase of the China Lunar Exploration Program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.SASTIND has previously announced that the Chang'e-5 lunar probe is expected to be launched in 2017 to complete the last phase of China's unmanned lunar automatic sampling and return.
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