12:59 02 December 2013
China has launched its first lunar rover mission on Monday, which take the country a step closer to realising its ambitious space programme. The Chang’e-3 mission, which blasted off from Xichange in the south, has a landing module and a six-wheeled robotic cover called Yutu. It is expected to land in the moon’s northern hemisphere in mid-December.
China’s rover mission will be the third one to land on the lunar surface however, it carries more sophisticated payload, including ground-penetrating radar, which will be used to gather measurements of the lunar soil and crust.
According to its designer, the Shanghai Aerospace Systems Engineering Research Institute, the Jade Rabbit can climb slopes of up to 30 degrees and travel at 200m per hour. Jade Rabbit was chosen as the name for the mission rover after 3.4 million Chinese have voted online. It was derived from an ancient Chinese Myth about a rabbit living on the moon as the pet of the lunar goddess Chang’e.
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