November 26, 2013
China is in the “final stages” of preparation for its Chang’e 3 moon lander, which will lift off via a Long March 3B rocket in early December. The ambitious probe will orbit the moon before propelling down to the surface and unleashing a solar-powered moon rover to explore the lunar surface.
A Xinhua News poll to name the six-wheeled rover, which has four cameras and is capable of traversing obstacles on the surface, has “Seeking Dream” in the lead with more than 500,000 votes cast. It will roll across the surface for at least three months under the control of scientists from Earth.
Chang’e 3 will likely land on a piece of lunar territory called Sinus Iridum (seen below), near a fresh crater named Laplace A — which features a breathtaking 5,200 foot sheer drop that the rover may venture toward to photograph.
But there’s a problem: NASA is already there, and fears that the Chinese mission could compromise its own. NASA’s orbiting Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is undergoing the final processes of instrument commissioning and adjustment, after which it will descend to lower lunar orbit and begin the science and observation phase of its mission.
This article was posted: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 6:30 am