Mooncake, festival and China's lunar mission

Updated: 2016-09-14 19:07

By Liu Wei(

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

China's lunar probe program, or Chang'e program, was approved in January 2004.

According to Ouyang Ziyuan, the country's chief scientist for the lunar probe project, the program includes three phases.

The first phase is launching lunar orbiters; the second is to soft land on the moon and the last phase is taking samples of the moon and bringing them  back.

Mooncake, festival and China's lunar mission

Screen shows the photos of the Chang'e-3 moon lander (L) and the Yutu moon rover during the mutual-photograph process, at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China, Dec 15, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

Click to see the updated news about Chang'e mission

By far, The Chang'e-3, incorporating a robotic lander and China's first lunar rover, as the second phase of China's lunar program, has already completed its mission and retired on Aug 4, 2016.

During phase two, the Yutu rover will survey the moon's geological structure and surface substances, while looking for natural resources. It would be the first time China has soft-landed a spacecraft on a celestial body.

The spacecraft was named after Chang'e, the goddess of the Moon in Chinese mythology, and is a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 lunar orbiters. The rover was named Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, following an online poll, after the mythological rabbit that lives on the Moon as a pet of the Moon goddess.

Mooncake, festival and China's lunar mission

The silhouette of Yutu on the moon with the earth as background. [Photo from Yutu's official Sina Weibo]

Yutu's Weibo account sparks internet users's passion for aerospace

Yutu has been operating on the moon for over two years, lasting longer than the Soviet Union's 1970 moon rover Lunokhod 1, which spent 11 months on the moon.

In phase three, China's unmanned probe would return with lunar soil and rock. The timetable of the mission has not been specified, but earlier reports said it may be concluded by 2020.