China’s Jade Rabbit Rover Heads for the Moon

moon, rover, lander, china, telescope, UV,

moon, rover, lander, china, telescope, UV,

moon, rover, lander, china, telescope, UV,

Earlier this week China’s lunar probe Chang’e-3 was launched aboard a Long March 3B rocket. While the Chinese space agency has experience with lunar probes (it launched the Chang’e-2 lunar probe in 2010) this mission marks the first time the nation will attempt an off world soft landing.

Incorporating both a lander and a rover the Chang’e-3’s 3,780kg payload is expected to explore both the lunar surface and surrounding galaxies.

According to its mission plan the rover, named Jade Rabbit, will traverse a 3km square area around the Sinus Iridum basaltic lava field. During its journey Jade Rabbit will use its ground penetrating radar to analyze the interior structure of the lunar crust.

In addition to this high-level analysis the rover will also use its alpha-particle X-ray spectrometer to determine the abundance of elements in any soil samples that it might collect.

While the Jade Rabbit is scooting around the lunar soil the Chang’e-3’s lander will be busy scanning the sky using its Lunar Ultraviolet Telescope (LUT)– the first long-term lunar observatory. Given its off world placement the LUT will have the ability to conduct near-UV observations, something that isn’t possible on Earth due to our ultraviolet obscuring atmosphere.

If all goes to plan Chang’e-3 will begin it’s descent to the Moon’s surface on December 14 making it the first craft to complete a soft landing on lunar soil in 37 years.

Images  & Video Courtesy of CCTV