TIANJIN -- Chang'e-2, China's second lunar probe has been a huge success and is now the smallest man-made asteroid in the solar system, according to a leading scientist.
The lunar probe, launched on Oct. 1, 2010, has fulfilled its mission and made worthwhile achievements, said Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's Lunar Exploration Project, on Sunday.
The lunar probe has, for the first time, completed and published a full seven-meter-resolution map of the Moon's surface. Using lanthanum bromide detectors, it acquired the map which shows the distribution of elements, such as uranium, thorium, potassium and iron, on the surface of the Moon, Ouyang said.
It also used X-ray observation data to fully map the Moon's surface and calculate aluminum distribution on the Moon, Ouyang said.
"Currently, the Chang'e-2 is the smallest man-made asteroid in the solar system. It has completed over 200 million kilometers flight and will continue to fly, returning somewhere closer to the earth around 2029," he said.
In 2007, The Chang'e-1 mission started the era of China's lunar exploration, and the launch of the Chang'e-2 and Chang'e-3 followed soon after. China plans to launch the Chang'e-5 lunar probe in 2017. The Chang'e-4 is scheduled to be sent to the far side of the moon in 2018.