Chang'e 3

Chang'e 3

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Chang'e 3 is a Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 lunar exploration mission, incorporating a robotic lander
Lander (spacecraft)
A lander is a spacecraft which descends toward and comes to rest on the surface of an astronomical body. For bodies with atmospheres, the landing is called atmospheric reentry and the lander descends as a re-entry vehicle...

 and rover
Lunar rover
The Lunar Roving Vehicle or lunar rover was a battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the Moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program during 1971 and 1972...

. Scheduled for launch in 2013 as part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program
Chinese Lunar Exploration Program
Chinese Lunar Exploration Program , also known as the Chang'e program, is a program of robotic and human missions to the Moon undertaken by the China National Space Administration , the space agency of the People's Republic of China...

, it will be China's first lunar rover, and the first spacecraft to make a soft landing
Soft landing
A soft landing in the business cycle is the process of an economy shifting from growth to slow-growth to potentially flat, as it approaches but avoids a recession. It is usually caused by government attempts to slow down inflation...

 on the Moon since the Russian Luna 24
Luna 24
-External links:*...

 mission in 1976. It is named after Chang'e
Chang'e
Chang'e may refer to:* Chang'e - a traditional Chinese lunar goddess* The Chinese Chang'e space program, part of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program :** Chang'e 1 - the first CLEP lunar orbiter, launched on 24 October 2007...

, the Chinese goddess of the Moon
Lunar deity
In mythology, a lunar deity is a god or goddess associated with or symbolizing the moon. These deities can have a variety of functions and traditions depending upon the culture, but they are often related to or an enemy of the solar deity. Even though they may be related, they are distinct from the...

, and is a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2
Chang'e 2
Chang'e 2 is a Chinese unmanned lunar probe that was launched on 1 October 2010. It was a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 lunar probe, which was launched in 2007. Chang'e 2 was part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, and conducted research from a 100-kilometer-high lunar orbit...

 lunar orbiters, which launched in 2007 and 2010 respectively.

Background



The first Chinese lunar orbiter, Chang'e 1, was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Xichang Satellite Launch Center
The Xichang Satellite Launch Center also known as Base 27 , is a People’s Republic of China space vehicle launch facility approximately 64 km northwest of Xichang City, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province....

 on 24 October 2007 and entered lunar orbit
Lunar orbit
In astronomy, lunar orbit refers to the orbit of an object around the Moon.As used in the space program, this refers not to the orbit of the Moon about the Earth, but to orbits by various manned or unmanned spacecraft around the Moon...

 on 5 November.
The spacecraft operated until 1 March 2009, when it was intentionally impacted into the surface of the Moon. Data gathered by Chang'e 1 was used to create an accurate and high-resolution 3-D map of the entire lunar surface, assisting site selection for the Chang'e 3 lander. In 2009, Chang'e 3's launch date was announced as being 2013.

Chang'e 1's successor, Chang'e 2
Chang'e 2
Chang'e 2 is a Chinese unmanned lunar probe that was launched on 1 October 2010. It was a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 lunar probe, which was launched in 2007. Chang'e 2 was part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, and conducted research from a 100-kilometer-high lunar orbit...

, was launched on 1 October 2010 to conduct research from a 100-km-high lunar orbit, in preparation for a soft landing by Chang'e 3. Chang'e 2, though similar in design to Chang'e 1, was equipped with improved instruments and provided high-resolution imagery of the lunar surface to assist in the planning of the Chang'e 3 mission.

Like its orbiting predecessors, the Chang'e 3 mission is planned as a precursor to further robotic lunar exploration missions, including a sample return mission planned for 2017. Following these automated missions, a manned landing may be conducted in 2025.

Rover


The Chang'e 3 mission incorporates a lunar rover
Lunar rover
The Lunar Roving Vehicle or lunar rover was a battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the Moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program during 1971 and 1972...

, designed to detach from the lander and explore the lunar surface independently. The development of the six-wheeled rover began in 2002 at the Shanghai Aerospace System Engineering Institute, where a specialized testing laboratory was outfitted to replicate the lunar surface. The assembly of the 1.5-meter-high, 120-kg (260-lb) rover was completed in May 2010. With a payload capacity of approximately 20 kilograms (44.1 lb), the rover is designed to transmit video in real time, and to dig and analyze soil samples. It can navigate inclines and has automatic sensors to prevent it from colliding with other objects. Energy will be provided by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator
Radioisotope thermoelectric generator
A radioisotope thermoelectric generator is an electrical generator that obtains its power from radioactive decay. In such a device, the heat released by the decay of a suitable radioactive material is converted into electricity by the Seebeck effect using an array of thermocouples.RTGs can be...

, allowing the rover to operate through lunar nights.

Landing site


Data from the Chang'e orbiters was used to select a landing site for Chang'e 3. The lander is scheduled to land on the Sinus Iridum
Sinus Iridum
Sinus Iridum is a plain of basaltic lava that forms a northwestern extension to the Mare Imbrium. It is surrounded from the northeast to the southwest by the Montes Jura range. The protruding part of the range at the southwest end is named Promontorium Heraclides, while that at the northeast end...

 at a latitude of 44° north. The Sinus Iridum is a plain of basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

ic lava
Lava
Lava refers both to molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption and the resulting rock after solidification and cooling. This molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites. When first erupted from a volcanic vent, lava is a liquid at...

 that forms a northwestern extension to the Mare Imbrium
Mare Imbrium
Mare Imbrium, Latin for "Sea of Showers" or "Sea of Rains", is a vast lunar mare filling a basin on Earth's Moon and one of the larger craters in the Solar System. Mare Imbrium was created when lava flooded the giant crater formed when a very large object hit the Moon long ago...

.

Chang'e 3 is currently scheduled to be the first spacecraft to perform a soft landing
Soft landing
A soft landing in the business cycle is the process of an economy shifting from growth to slow-growth to potentially flat, as it approaches but avoids a recession. It is usually caused by government attempts to slow down inflation...

 on the Moon since Soviet Russia
Soviet Russia
Soviet Russia usually refers to the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, one of the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union. It may also denote:* Soviet Russia , magazine of the Friends of Soviet Russia in the United States...

's Luna 24
Luna 24
-External links:*...

 in 1976, breaking a 37-year gap in lunar surface exploration.

See also

  • Chinese space program
    Chinese space program
    The space program of the People's Republic of China is directed by the China National Space Administration . Its technological roots can be traced back to the late 1950s, when the People's Republic began a rudimentary ballistic missile program in response to perceived American threats...

  • Chinese Lunar Exploration Program
    Chinese Lunar Exploration Program
    Chinese Lunar Exploration Program , also known as the Chang'e program, is a program of robotic and human missions to the Moon undertaken by the China National Space Administration , the space agency of the People's Republic of China...

  • Exploration of the Moon
    Exploration of the Moon
    The physical exploration of the Moon began when Luna 2, a space probe launched by the Soviet Union, made an impact on the surface of the Moon on September 14, 1959. Prior to that the only available means of exploration had been observation. The invention of the optical telescope brought about the...

  • Chang'e 1, China's first lunar orbiter, launched in 2007
  • Chang'e 2
    Chang'e 2
    Chang'e 2 is a Chinese unmanned lunar probe that was launched on 1 October 2010. It was a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 lunar probe, which was launched in 2007. Chang'e 2 was part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, and conducted research from a 100-kilometer-high lunar orbit...

    , Chang'e 3's immediate predecessor, launched in 2010
  • List of future lunar missions
  • Robotic exploration of the Moon
    Robotic exploration of the Moon
    -Pioneer program:*Pioneer 0 – failure – orbiter*Pioneer 1 – failure – orbiter*Pioneer 2 – failure – orbiter*Pioneer 3 – failure – flyby...