"Chang'e 1", China's first lunar probe, is scheduled to be launched during the second half of this year. It will carry six sets of scientific equipment such as a 3D, CCD camera and laser altimeter. Using this equipment, it will complete four major tasks, said Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's moon exploration program. It will be the first time such equipment has been used in China, some of which has only just been developed, said Ouyang.
According to Ouyang in a report carried by Beijing Daily, the lunar probe has four major scientific and engineering missions.
Chang'e 1's first mission is to obtain 3D images of the lunar surface. The probe will carry a 3D CCD camera and a laser altimeter. The laser altimeter will measure the altitude at every point on the moon's surface (including at points within the dark tunnels at the South and North Poles). By combining these measurements with the high-precision CCD images, scientists will be able to put together a complete and accurate 3D topographical map of the moon.
Its second task is to analyze the distribution of 14 useful elements and materials below the lunar surface. Chang'e 1 will use a gamma/x-ray spectrometer to detect the distribution of 14 elements on the moon. Scientists will obtain data about what resources are available on the moon and select a site for a permanent lunar base.
The third job of the lunar probe is to assess the thickness of the lunar soil and reserves of helium-3 resources. Chang'e 1 will be the world's first lunar exploration satellite equipped with a remote microwave sensing device. This microwave detector can measure the intensity of objects' microwave radiation and recognize objects buried deep underground. Helium-3 is an extremely rare resource that has been proposed as a substitute for oil.
The fourth task is to explore the space environment 400,000 kilometers away from the moon, obtain data about solar winds, and study the impact of solar activity on the space environment between the earth and the moon. Chang'e 1 is equipped with a high-energy solar particle detector and a low-energy ion detector and will collect data about the space environment within a radius of 400,000 kilometers. This critical data will be of great value when scientists begin developing the next-generation of deep-space exploration technology.
By People's Daily Online