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China's second moon orbiter Chang'e-2 sends data from 1.7 mln km away

(Xinhua)

17:04, September 21, 2011

BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- China's second moon orbiter Chang'e-2 has sent back the first batch of data while orbiting the second Lagrange Point (L2) about 1.7 million km away from Earth.

The orbiter is scheduled to travel around the L2 orbit till the end of 2012, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.

The data it sent back was obtained by gamma-ray a spectrometer, high-energy solar particle detector and solar wind ion detector loaded on the orbiter while it traveled from the moon's orbit to its current position.

Chang'e-2 will carry out exploration activities, such as monitoring of the high energy particles and solar winds, around the L2.

Li Chunlai, one of designers of the lunar probe project, said Chang'e-2 will be the first moon orbiter in the world to observe solar winds for a fairly long time around the L2 which is a prime position to study solar winds.

Chang'e-2 entered the L2 orbit, where gravity from the sun and Earth balances the orbital motion of a satellite, in late August and has been operating stably for 26 days.

There are five so-called "Lagrange Points" about 1.5 million km from the Earth in the exact opposite direction from the sun. Positioning a spacecraft at any of these points allows it to stay in a fixed position relative to the Earth and sun with minimal amount of energy needed for course correction.

It is the first time for China to send a spacecraft to a place 1.7 million km away from Earth.

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