China to launch second lunar probe in 2010: report

10:55, November 27, 2009      

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China will launch its second lunar probe, Chang'e-2, in October 2010, a top Chinese space scientist told China Daily on Thursday.

The newspaper quoted Ye Peijian, chief designer of the nation's first moon probe, as saying that the second lunar orbiter will carry different payloads and orbit the moon in a different way.

"It will orbit 100 km closer to the moon and be equipped with better facilities. We expect to acquire more scientific data about the moon with increased accuracy," he was quoted as saying.

Though Chang'e-2 was at one time the backup to Chang'e-1, it has gone through technical upgrades for its new mission. Payloads on board have been improved, and the vehicle now boasts a charge-coupled device (CCD) camera on board, which has a much higher resolution than the camera on China's first lunar probe.

Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist with China's lunar exploration team, said on Wednesday during an interview with People’s Daily Online that systems on Chang'e-2 are undergoing "match-up and drills" and everything has gone well.

Tests will also be carried out during Chang'e-2's mission to prepare for the lunar-lander and rover, Ye was quoted as saying.

He also told the third International Conference on Space Information Technology in Beijing Thursday that the country's lunar-lander and rover, Chang'e-3, is also well on the way toward liftoff -- the project is in the prototype stage and its launch is set for before 2013.

Chang'e-3, China's first lunar-lander and rover, is scheduled to be launched from a Long March 3B launch vehicle from the Xichang satellite launch center before 2013, Ye was quoted as saying.

At present, work on Chang'e-3 has gone beyond the planning stage and the machinery is now in the prototype stage.

The landing site on the moon for Chang'e-3 has also been chosen. Ye said it will be in the Sinus Iridium (Bay of Rainbows).

The scientific objectives of the project include investigating the lunar landscape and exploring the geological structure of the moon. The mission will also help China study the material composition of the moon and search for usable resources.

Chang'e-2 and Chang'e-3 are part of the second phase of China's lunar exploration program.

China launched its lunar mission in 2007 when it successfully put an unmanned probe, Chang'e-1, into lunar orbit. The spacecraft transmitted pictures of the moon's surface in January 2008.

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