China Readies First Lunar Lander

September 16th, 2013

Testing of China’s Chang’e-3 robotic lunar lander. Photo Credit: China media via Galactic Penguin SST

China’s Chang’e 3 robotic lunar lander is being readied for launch by year’s end – a milestone making mission that also involves a wheeled lunar rover to drive across the lunar landscape.

Chang’e 3 is the third robotic lunar probe mission of the China Lunar Exploration Program.

Armed with numerous cameras, Chang’e-3 will carry a near-ultraviolet astronomical telescope to observe stars, the galaxy and the universe from the Moon’s surface, said Ouyang Ziyuan, a senior advisor to China’s lunar program.

The lander also totes an extreme ultraviolet camera. It will be used on the Moon to monitor the transformation of the Earth’s plasmasphere and environmental change.

The Earth’s plasmasphere is an inner part of the magneteosphere.

Rover-mounted radar

Once the lander is on the Moon, the Chang’e-3 moon rover will roam the moonscape, carrying a radar system attached to the bottom of the robot. That radar, according to Ouyang can survey hundreds of feet beneath the lunar terrain.

Chang’e-3 will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China.

A modified model of the Long March-3B carrier rocket will boost the probe into space. According to Chinese media reports, the booster’s improved design provides more reliability. Also the rocket’s carrying capacity has been increased to propel the Chang’e-3 skyward.

By Leonard David