China’s moon landing of the Jade Rabbit moon rover aboard the Chang’e lunar probe has been a success.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, China’s moon rover called Yutu was launched almost two weeks ago and went into lunar orbit about a week ago.
Besides Russia and the United States, China’s moon landing will make them the third country to land any man-made object on the lunar surface. The mission was preceded by two moon orbiter missions in 2007 and 2010.
Despite having been done in the past, Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane’s Space Systems and Industry, says China’s moon landing was still difficult:
“It’s still a significant technological challenge to land on another world. Especially somewhere like the moon, which doesn’t have an atmosphere so you can’t use parachutes or anything like that. You have to use rocket motors for the descent, and you have to make sure you go down at the right angle and the right rate of descent and you don’t end up in a crater on top of a large rock.”
The Chinese agree, saying more than “80 percent of the technology adopted in the mission is new, and with new technology and products carrying out new tasks, there are certainly great risks.” So it’s possible the Jade Rabbit could have gotten stuck exiting the Chang’e. But Mr. Bond believes the Chinese are “making good strides,” and within 10 to 20 years will probably overtake the United States in certain areas.
The names of Yutu and Chang’e were voted upon by the Chinese and competed against 190,000 other ideas. Chang’e was a goddess who accidentally swallowed an immortality pill and flew to the Moon, with only a rabbit to keep her company. Hence the name Yutu, or Jade Rabbit. Back in 1969, the crew of the Apollo 11 were even asked to look out for Chang’e and her bunny. Astronaut Michael Collins’ response? “We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.”
China’s moon rover weighs about 310 pounds and is powered by two solar panels. The Jade Rabbit will be embarking on a three month scientific expedition soon, and Chang’e will use its antennas to broadcast live video back to Earth. China’s moon landing will also be the first to bring modern scientific instruments to the moon, so it’s possible the Chinese could discover more than what was found 37 years ago.
But China’s moon landing might also be the beginning of an effort to search the lunar surface for Helium-3 resources. Such mining efforts would be necessary for nuclear reactors and a long-term Chinese moon base. As such, the Jade Rabbit is capable of scanning down to a depth of 100 feet below the lunar surface.