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UPDATED: 16:34, July 27, 2004
Moon probe project is sure to pay off hugely: expert
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China's moon probe project will make great contribution to scientific and technological progress. The project will bring huge rewards, said Ouyang Ziyuan, academician with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and chief scientist in the project at the 35th anniversary of the Apollo-11's successful landing on the moon.

China formally initiated the moon probe project in March 2003, and the first phase is named "Chang'e I" project, which aims to develop and launch China's first moon probe satellite and do thorough, overall and comprehensive studies on the moon.

Ouyang said that China's lunar probe project is carried out by a scientific and technological elite squad through the multi-department cooperation. It is a systematic and comprehensive project, which will definitely boost China's high and new technologies and push economic construction ahead.

Moon probe is demanding in terms of rocket, communications, monitoring and control, remote sensing and the development of apparatus, so researchers must challenge and overcome the difficulties for realizing them, and that will help the development of a series of basic sciences and high and new technologies. Take the Apollo Program as an example, the United States spent over US$ 25 billion on it and it was estimated that the return rate is as high as one to four or even five. Meanwhile, sophisticated technologies have mostly been transferred to civilian use, and eventually helped the rapid updating of the science and technology.

China started late in moon probe, but at higher starting-point and with its own characteristics. The moon probe project will surely bring huge rewards, said Ouyang.

As learned, China bids to realize four goals in the first phase of the project.

First, take three-dimensional images of the surface of the moon.

Second, analyze the quantity of the useful elements and the distribution of the material types on the surface of the moon - mainly the quantity and distribution of the 14 elements of exploitation and use value, such as titanium (Ti) and iron (Fe).

Third, measure the thickness of moon soil and grasp the age of the surface of the moon and estimate the quantity of helium 3 (He3).

Fourth, explore into the space environment between the earth and the moon. As Ouyang introduced, the project constitutes of five major systems: carrier, satellite, monitoring and control and launching field and ground application.

The five systems are underway smoothly as planned, and have entered in-depth development. Take monitoring and controlling system for example, Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) network has been added into the original one, composed of four giant antennas of the radio telescopes installed in Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming and Urumqi respectively. When they are completed, the network will far enhance the monitoring and controlling ability.

Moreover, some key technological difficulties in the satellite system have been conquered, and the system is going on well.

By People's Daily Online

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