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China to launch orbiters for lunar soft landing in next five years: white paper

(Xinhua)

12:19, December 29, 2011

BEIJING, Dec. 29 (Xinhua) -- China will launch orbiters for lunar soft landing, roving and surveying to implement the second stage of lunar exploration in next five years, a white paper said Thursday.

China's lunar probe projects are based on the idea of "three steps" -- orbiting, landing and returning, said the white paper "China's Space Activities in 2011" issued by the State Council Information Office.

In the third stage, China will start to sample the moon's surface matters and get those samples back to Earth, the paper said.

The country's lunar probe projects have achieved milestone breakthroughs since 2006, with the successful launching of two lunar probes, the Chang'e-1 on Oct. 24, 2007, and Chang'e-2 on Oct. 1, 2010.

The first probe retrieved a great deal of scientific data and a complete map of the moon while the second one created a full higher-resolution map of the moon and a high-definition image of Sinus Iridium.

By the implementation of lunar exploration projects, China will make in-situ analyses, morphological and structural surveys of the lunar surface in landing and roving areas, conduct environmental surveys of the lunar surface and make moon-based astronomical observations.

China will also push forward its exploration of planets, asteroids and the sun of the solar system, according to the white paper.

By using spacecraft, China will study the properties of black holes and physical laws under extreme conditions, explore properties of dark matter particles, and test basic theories of quantum mechanics.

It will also conduct scientific experiments on microgravity and space life science, explore and forecast the space environment and study their effects.

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