Chang'e 3

Chang'e 3
Chang'e 3
Operator China CNSA
Mission type Lander and one rover
Satellite of Moon
Launch date 2013 (planned)
Launch vehicle Long March 5
Mission duration Three months (rover)
Mass 3,750 kilograms (8,300 lb)
Power RTG

Chang'e 3 is a Chinese lunar exploration mission, incorporating a robotic lander and rover. Scheduled for launch in 2013 as part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, it will be China's first lunar rover, and the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon since the Luna 24 mission in 1976. It is named after Chang'e, the Chinese goddess of the Moon, and is a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 lunar orbiters, which launched in 2007 and 2010 respectively.

Contents

Background

The Chang'e 1 lunar probe, launched in 2007.
The Chang'e 2 probe, launched in 2010.

The first Chinese lunar orbiter, Chang'e 1, was launched on 24 October 2007 from Xichang Satellite Launch Center[1] and entered lunar orbit on 5 November.[2] The spacecraft operated until 1 March 2009, when it was intentionally impacted the surface of the Moon.[3] Data gathered by Chang'e 1 was used to create an accurate and high-resolution 3-D map of the entire lunar surface, assisting site selection for the Chang'e 3 lander.[4][5] In 2009, Chang'e 3's launch date was announced as being 2013.

Chang'e 1's successor, Chang'e 2, was launched on 1 October 2010 to conduct research from a 100-km-high lunar orbit, in preparation for a soft landing by Chang'e 3.[6] Chang'e 2, though similar in design to Chang'e 1, was equipped with improved instruments and provided high-resolution imagery of the lunar surface to assist in the planning of the Chang'e 3 mission.

Like its orbiting predecessors, the Chang'e 3 mission is planned as a precursor to further robotic lunar exploration missions, including a sample return mission planned for 2017. Following these automated missions, a manned landing may be conducted in 2025.[7]

Mission development

Rover

The Chang'e 3 mission will incorporate a lunar rover, designed to detach from the lander and explore the lunar surface independently. The development of the six-wheeled rover began in 2002 at the Shanghai Aerospace System Engineering Institute, where a specialized testing laboratory was outfitted to replicate the lunar surface.[8][9] The assembly of the 1.5-meter-high, 120-kg (260-lb) rover was completed in May 2010. With a payload capacity of approximately 20 kilograms (44 lb), the rover is designed to transmit video in real time, and to dig and analyze soil samples. It can navigate inclines and has automatic sensors to prevent it from colliding with other objects. Energy will be provided by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, allowing the rover to operate through lunar nights.[10]

Landing site

Data from the Chang'e orbiters was used to select a landing site for Chang'e 3. The lander is scheduled to land on the Sinus Iridum at a latitude of 44° north.[11] The Sinus Iridum is a plain of basaltic lava that forms a northwestern extension to the Mare Imbrium.

Chang'e 3 is currently scheduled to be the first spacecraft to perform a soft landing on the Moon since Soviet Russia's Luna 24 in 1976, breaking a 37-year gap in lunar surface exploration.

See also

References

  1. ^ "China's 1st Moon orbiter enters Earth orbit". Xinhua News Agency. October 24, 2007. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-10/24/content_6937622.htm. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  2. ^ http://www.efluxmedia.com/news_Chinas_Change_I_Enters_Moon_Orbit_10279.html
  3. ^ Guodong, Du (2009-03-01). "China's lunar probe Chang'e-1 impacts Moon". Xinhua. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-03/01/content_10923205.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-01. 
  4. ^ http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/LD16Ad01.html
  5. ^ "China publishes first map of whole lunar surface". 12 November 2008. http://mil.news.sina.com.cn/s/2008-11-12/1559529860.html. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  6. ^ Stephen Clark (1 October 2010). "China's second moon probe dispatched from Earth". Spaceflight Now. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1010/01change2launch/. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  7. ^ "China could make moon landing in 2025". The Guardian, 20 September 2010. Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  8. ^ "登月车构造原理". 新华网. 24 April 2008. http://news.xinhuanet.com/tech/2008-04/24/xinsrc_332040524080250082374.jpg. Retrieved 24 April 2008. 
  9. ^ "中国首辆登月车工程样机". 新华网. 24 April 2008. http://news.xinhuanet.com/tech/2008-04/24/xinsrc_332040524080210976603.jpg. Retrieved 24 April 2008. 
  10. ^ "China considering manned lunar landing in 2025-2030". Xinhua News Agency. 24 May 2009. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-05/24/content_11425131.htm. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 
  11. ^ "China To Launch Second Lunar Probe In 2010". Xinhua News Agency. Spacedaily.com. 30 November 2009. http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/China_To_Launch_Second_Lunar_Probe_In_2010_999.html. Retrieved 1 October 2010. 

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