China Aimed For the Moon With Chang’e-3

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By Katrina Dianne Gimenez | December 5, 2013 3:21 PM EST

China has launched its spacecraft Chang'e-3 for a soft landing on the moon Sunday Dec. 1.

The rover was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, China, heading straight from the Earth to the moon. Its target landing is Sinus Irirdium, a 250-mile wide crater visible on the upper-left area of the moon. The uncharted area is a potential discovery for new geological features, clear driving for the rover and grand views of steep crater walls.

The rocket used was powerful enough for a 1,200 kilogram rover and land on the moon. Once the lander safely touches the lunar surface, it will deploy a rover to roam around and make scientific measurements. The rover is equipped with cameras, surface probes mineralogical testing devices and far-ultraviolet telescope.

Chang'e-3 is supposed to enter the lunar orbit Dec. 6 and land in Sinus on Dec. 14. Its rover is expected to travel up to 6 miles and be used for up to 3 months, while the lander is set to survive for at least a year.

China had previously launched two orbiter Chang'e-1 and 2. It was the first time that it attempted to land on the moon. The mission was aimed both on expanding man's understanding of the moon's geologic history and showing the world of its technological advancement.

For the past two decades, China had been developing its space program through intense government financing. Chang'e-3 is only another step for China on its long-range plan on laying the groundwork for human-led exploration. The Asian country is already planning on more complex follow-up lunar missions that could possibly land Chinese astronauts on the moon which may happen as early as 2025.

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