China announces plans for 2013 Moon landing


July 31, 2012

Sinus Iridum as seen from NASA's Clementine probe, where China plans to land a lunar rover in 2013 (Photo: NASA)

Sinus Iridum as seen from NASA's Clementine probe, where China plans to land a lunar rover in 2013 (Photo: NASA)

The Chinese news agency Xinhua announced on July 31, 2012, that China will be sending its first unmanned lander to the Moon in the second half of 2013. Chang’e-3 will be the third lunar probe launched by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the first attempt at a landing. The lander/rover combination will launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China’s Sichuan province as part of China’s continuing Lunar Exploration program.

Named after a Chinese goddess of the moon, Chang’e-3 is the third in the Chang’e series. The previous were the lunar orbiters Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2, which were launched in 2007 and 2010 respectively. The 2013 mission, consisting of a lander and an autonomous rover, is scheduled to land on the Moon at the Sinus Iridum (“Bay of Rainbows”), a plain of basaltic lava situated at latitude 44 degrees north that forms a northwestern extension to the Mare Imbrium. The mission duration is expected to be three months.

The rover component of the mission is a six-wheeled machine weighing 120 kg (260 lb) and carries a payload of 20 kg (44 lb). It’s powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, which the CNSA says will allow the rover to operate during the lunar night. More importantly, it keeps the electronics from freezing and destroying the batteries, leaving a dead rover at sun up, which is what killed at least one Soviet rover. The rover can transmit real-time video, has a surface-analyzing radar and can collect and analyze soil samples.

The 100 kg (200 lb) lander is more than just a means of setting down the rover safely. It carries a suite of instruments of its own, including an astronomical telescope with extreme ultraviolet camera. China claims this will be the first lunar observatory in history.

Source: Xinhua via The Telegraph

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

It's 2015 now and I am just looking back at the publicity surrounding this campaign. The mission was a were take, data was received. I think the rover stalled after sometime, but as far as I know, China received a ton of data and the world had some pretty incredible glimpses of the moon and its' surroundings.....


I notice lots of little black rectangles in the photo. Something we are not supposed to see? Rather like the redacted pages of released UFO documents. Actually, when you think of all the Mars rover pictures, it will be good to see some real-time moon roving action. Regarding the radioisotope batteries, I wonder if they give off dangerous radiation if you stood nearby. If not maybe you could have one at home. They last for years without being recharged (Mars Rovers)


from "When galactic cosmic rays collide with particles in the lunar surface, they trigger little nuclear reactions that release yet more radiation in the form of neutrons. The lunar surface itself is radioactive! So which is worse for astronauts: cosmic rays from above or neutrons from below? Igor Mitrofanov, a scientist at the Institute for Space Research and the Russian Federal Space Agency, Moscow, offers a grim answer: "Both are worse."

tampa florida

Good for China, maybe we'll get that McDonald's on the moon yet. How many people out there believe that we never went to the Moon (landed people) because of the radiation?

Billy Brooks

That's good for China but now we have to send at least one private one up before they do so we double win the space race (our private companies go before their government does).

Ben O'Brien

I bet China has plans to start mining moon resources... We'd better catch up quick, or they'll claim the good stuff.

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