Chang'e-2 completes mission, Chang'e-3 to be launched in 2013   2011-04-02 13:04:35 FeedbackRSS

BEIJING,April 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Friday marks the end of Chang'e-2's primary mission. Orbiting around the moon for six months already, the Chang'e-2 has completed its mission to scout potential landing sites for Chinese spacecraft. But what's next? Zhang Nini visits the National Astronomical Observatories to find out.

Launched on October 1st, 2010, Chang'e-2 has flown a unique trajectory to the moon and entered a lower orbit on November 3rd, during its six month mission to take high resolution images of the moon's Sinus Iridum, or Bay of Rainbows.

All together five potential landing spots were found. And the images relayed back are 17 times the resolution of pictures from Chang'e-2's predecessor Chang'e-1.

Senior engineer Wen Weibin called the mission a success.

Wen Weibin, Senior Engineer, National Astronomical Observatories, said, "Chang'e-2 has completed its mission to find a landing site for its successor Chang'e-3. The spacecraft will continue fulfilling its scientific objectives including investigating the lunar landscape and exploring the geological structure of the moon. We are in the process of collecting more data."

The fate of Chang'e-2 has not been determined yet. But Wen said that it's likely that Chang'e-2 will continue to orbit the moon and examine more locations with high resolution imagery. The spacecraft's laser altimeter can also be used to study the surface in greater detail, providing more clues to the topography.

Wen Weibin, Senior Engineer, National Astronomical Observatories, said, "The spacecraft is sufficiently-stocked of fuel, which will enable the orbiter to further survey the moon for one or two more years. It might even fly beyond its trajectory to the outer space, places previously not reached by Chinese spacecraft."

The next phase in China's moon exploration plan will be the launching of Chang'e-3 in 2013. The third unmanned probe aims for a soft landing on the moon. A Chinese-designed moon rover will also land with Chang'e-3. The robot is being tasked with detecting, collecting and analyzing samples.

(Source: CNTV)

Special Report: China Launches Lunar Probe Chang'e-2

Editor: Tang Danlu
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