Moon rover, lander photograph each other
Updated: 2013-12-16 00:10
BEIJING -- China's first moon rover and lander took photos of each other on the moon's surface Sunday night, a move that marks a complete success of the country's Chang'e-3 lunar probe mission.
Ma Xingrui, chief commander of China's lunar program, announced that Chang'e-3 mission was a "complete success", after the two successfully took pictures for each other.
The one-minute photographing came a day after the country completed its first lunar soft landing, the world's first of the kind in nearly four decades. The last soft landing was carried out by the Soviet Union in 1976.
At about 11:42 pm Beijing Time, the six-wheeled Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, moved to a spot about 9 meters north to the lander and the photographing began.
The color images, live transmitted via a deep space network designed by China, showed the Chinese national flag on Yutu. It marked the first time that the five-star red flag had pictures taken in an extraterrestrial body.
As a photo appeared on a big monitoring screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), senior state leaders and dozens of center staff clapped hands in cheers.
Yutu will survey the moon's geological structure and surface substances and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will conduct in-situ exploration at the landing site for one year.
The 140-kg rover separated from the lander and touched the lunar surface at 4:35 am Sunday, several hours after Chang'e-3 lunar probe soft-landed on the moon's surface at 9:11 pm on Saturday.
Chang'e-3 landed on the moon's Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, making China the third country in the world to carry out such a rover mission after the United States and Soviet Union.
In ancient Chinese mythology, Yutu was the white pet rabbit of the lunar goddess Chang'e. The name for the rover was selected following an online poll that collected several million votes from people around the world.
The rover, 1.5 meters long with its two wings folded, 1 m in width and 1.1 m in height, is a highly efficient robot controlled by the command center from the earth. It will face challenges including temperature differences of more than 300 degrees Celsius on the moon.
Chang'e-3 is part of the second phase of China's lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to the Earth. It follows the success of the Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010.