15:26 16 December 2013
China’s first rover, Jade Rabbit has begun sending back photos after landing on the moon at 04:30 Beijing time on Saturday. After landing, it moved to a spot a few metres away. The short journey was recorded by the lander. By Sunday evening, the two machines started taking photographs of each other.
With this, China’s lunar mission was declared a complete success by the programme’s chief commander Ma Xingrui. Jade Rabbit is the first robot to land on the moon in nearly 40 years and this is the latest step in China’s ambitious space programme.
The rover is expected to work for some three months while the lander will operate for about a year.
Prof Andrew Coates, from UCL's Mullard Space Science Laboratory, said: "I was lucky enough to see a prototype rover in Shanghai a few years ago - it's a wonderful technological achievement to have landed.”
Both the rover and lander are powered by solar panels but some sources suggest they also carry radioisotope heating units (RHUs), containing plutonium-238 to keep them warm and active during the cold lunar night.
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