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China will send first rover to moon in 2013

By Yang Jian  (Shanghai Daily)

08:29, August 01, 2012

CHINA will launch its third lunar probe, Chang'e-3, to land on the moon in the second half of 2013, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence has announced.

The launch of the Chang'e-3, named after the Chinese goddess of the moon, is part of the second step of China's three-phrase lunar probe project of orbiting, landing and returning, the administration said.

The Chang'e-3 will release the country's first moon rover to patrol the lunar surface after it makes a soft landing on the moon, said Ye Peijian, chief commander of the Chang'e-2 and Chang'e-3 missions.

It is expected to be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

"The probe will take more scientific equipment than its predecessors mainly to detect, collect and analyze samples on the moon," Ye said.

The Chang'e-3 will also observe space from the lunar surface as the lack of atmosphere allows better viewing than from Earth, Ye said.

The rover will patrol the surface for at least three months with the 100-kilogram vehicle being controlled by scientists on Earth, Ye said.

"It will be the most difficult part of the mission as the rover must avoid dropping into big holes on the moon and climb over some small pits and rocks," he added.

Shanghai showcased a moon rover model, the MR-3, in 2008, mainly designed by the Shanghai Academy of Aerospace Industry.

However, it is unclear whether this will be the rover taken to the moon by the Chang'e-3.

The rover will have an expandable solar power plate to absorb the sun's energy during the day and draw back at night to wrap around the equipment to protect it from temperatures of minus 170 degrees Celsius.

A telescope in Sheshan Hill in suburban Shanghai, Asia's biggest radio telescope, will track the Chang'e-3 probes.

The telescope, to be as large as eight basketball courts with a diameter of 65 meters and a height of 70 meters, will be erected in September.

China launched the Chang'e-1 in 2007 and the Chang'e-2 in 2010.

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