Chinese Lunar Rover Lands on Moon! Begins Exploration!

The Chinese lunar rover, Yutu (or, “Jade Rabbit” in English), has embarked from the Chang’e 3 spacecraft. The Chinese Chang’e 3 made a sucessful “soft landing” on Saturday (video and images below). The Chinese rover will be the first lunar rover to operate on the Moon in over 40 years. The last rover to operate on the Moon was the Soviet Lunokhod 2, in May of 1973. Will this ignite a new space race?

Chinese Moon Rover Yutu on Lunar Surface

Chinese Moon Rover Yutu on Lunar Surface

The Jade Rabbit will begin its mission to learn more about the composition of the lunar surface. The mission includes plans for the rover to drill 30 meters into the Moon’s surface! A return mission for the lunar samples is scheduled around the year 2020.

The solar-powered, radioisotope-heated Rover has six wheels, panoramic cameras, alpha and X-ray particle detection, two spectrometers, ground-penetrating radar, a robotic arm, and the ability to transmit video in real-time. It is slightly smaller than NASA’s Mars rovers, Spirit and Oppertunity, and weighs about 260lbs (120kg).

Chinese Lunar Rover Launch

Chinese Lunar Rover Launch

Below is a video of the rover separating from the Chang’e lander.

A video of the Chang’e 3 landing on the moon:

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