Scientific equipment aboard Chang'e-3 starts working

Updated: 2013-12-16 22:00


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BEIJING - Five of the eight pieces of scientific equipment aboard Chang'e-3 lunar probe have started to observe space, the Earth and the Moon, a Chinese scientist said on Monday.

They have entered  working mode and telescopes and cameras have produced clear images, Zou Yongliao, a scientist with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said at a press conference.

Comprising a lander and rover Yutu, (Jade Rabbit) Chang'e-3 soft-landed on the Moon on Saturday evening. Yutu later separated from the lander and rolled to moon surface earlier Sunday. In ancient Chinese mythology, Yutu was the white pet rabbit of the lunar goddess Chang'e.

The mission makes China the third country after the Soviet Union and the United States to soft land a spacecraft on lunar soil.

The lander and Yutu each carries four scientific instruments to conduct Moon-based observation, Zou said, adding the lander's cameras took photos of the Moon during its descent.

Yutu and the lander took photos of each other Sunday night through the lander's landform camera and Yutu's panoramic camera. The color images, transmitted live, showed the Chinese national flag on Yutu.

Yutu's  radar started working Sunday night to test the structure of lunar soil, according to Zou.

"Chang'e-3 will study the Moon's landforms, geological structure, substance, and potentially exploitable resources," he said, adding, "the lander will observe the Earth's plasmasphere through telescopes."

Scientists from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan have participated in the Chang'e missions, and some of the data can be shared by scientists and tech savvy enthusiasts all over the world, Zou added.

Chang'e-3 is part of the second phase of China's lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to the Earth. It follows the success of the Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010.