|This article or section documents a current or recent spaceflight. Details may change as the mission progresses.
For more information please see WikiProject Spaceflight.
Artist's impression of Yutu lunar rover descending from the Chang'e 3 lander
|Mission type||Lander, Lunar rover|
|Mission duration||3 months|
|Manufacturer||Shanghai Aerospace System Engineering Institute|
|BOL mass||3800 kg|
|Landing mass||1,200 kg (2,600 lb)
Yutu rover: 120 kg (260 lb)
|Dimensions||Rover: 1.5 m (4.9 ft) high|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||1 December 2013, 17:30 UTC|
|Rocket||Long March 3B Y-23|
|Launch site||Xichang LA-2|
|Orbital insertion||6 December 2013, 9:53 UTC|
|Landing date||14 December 2013|
|Landing site||Sinus Iridum
Chang'e 3 (Chinese: 嫦娥三号; pinyin: Cháng'é Sānhào) is a lunar exploration mission operated by the China National Space Administration, incorporating a robotic lander and a rover. Chang'e 3 was launched on the morning of 2 December 2013 local time (17:30 1 December UTC), which is part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. It will be China's first lunar rover.
The spacecraft is 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 lunar rover is called Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, a name selected in an online poll that comes from a Chinese myth about a white rabbit that lives on the Moon as a companion of the moon goddess Chang'e. It achieved lunar orbit on 6 December 2013 (Beijing time).
- 1 History
- 2 Objectives
- 3 Mission profile
- 4 Landing site
- 5 Monitoring by other lunar missions
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
In January 2004, China's lunar orbiter project was formally established. The first Chinese lunar orbiter, Chang'e 1, was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center on 24 October 2007 and entered lunar orbit 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 were 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.
Chang'e 1's successor, Chang'e 2, was approved on October 2008 and was launched on 1 October 2010 to conduct research from a 100-km-high lunar orbit, in preparation for Chang'e 3's 2013 soft landing. Chang'e 2, though similar in design to Chang'e 1, was equipped with improved instruments and provided higher-resolution imagery of the lunar surface to assist in the planning of the Chang'e 3 mission. In 2012, Chang'e 2 was dispatched on an extended mission to the asteroid 4179 Toutatis.
In March 2012, China began manufacturing the body and payload of the Chang'e 3 lander, which will attempt to perform lunar surface and space studies independently of the mission's mobile rover.
Like its orbiting predecessors, the Chang'e 3 mission is planned as a precursor to further robotic lunar exploration missions, including Chang'e 5, a sample return mission planned for 2017. Following these automated missions, a manned landing may be conducted around 2025.
The official mission objective is to achieve China's first soft-landing and roving exploration on the Moon, as well as to develop and analyze key technological developments.
The scientific objectives of Chang'e-3 mainly includes lunar surface topography and geology survey, lunar surface material composition and resource survey, Sun-Earth-Moon space environment detection and lunar-based astronomical observation. Chang'e 3 will attempt to perform the first direct measurement of the structure and depth of the lunar soil down to a depth of 30 m (98 ft), and investigate the lunar crust structure down to several hundred meters deep.
The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program has been divided into three main operational phases, which are:
Although the exact mission plan is not publicly available, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter scientists speculate that a potential scenario is that the rover could set off towards Laplace A crater in Sinus Iridum.
Chang'e 3 probe consists of two parts: the lunar lander and Yutu rover. The probe was launched on 2 December 2013 on board a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
Homes downrange of the Launch Centre were damaged during liftoff when spent hardware wreckage from the rocket, including one piece the size of a desk, fell on a village in Suining county in neighbouring Hunan province. The county authorities had moved 160,000 people to safety before the liftoff, while more than 20,000 people near the launch site in Sichuan had been moved to a primary school auditorium. The expected wreckage zone for Long March rockets is 50 to 70 kilometres long and 30 km wide.
The probe entered a 100 km (62 mi)-high circular lunar orbit at 5:53 p.m. Beijing Time on Friday, 6 December (9:53 UTC). The orbit was obtained after 361 seconds of variable thrust engine braking.
With a landing mass of 1,200 kg (2,600 lb), the lander has been described as "massive" and it also carries the ~100 kg (220 lb) rover. It serves double-duty as a technology demonstrator to be further refined for the planned 2018 Chang'e 5 sample return mission.
The stationary lander is equipped with a radioisotope heater unit (RHU) in order to heat its subsystems and power its operations during its planned three-month mission. It has a scientific payload of seven instruments and cameras. In addition to their lunar scientific roles, the cameras will also acquire images of the Earth and other celestial bodies. During the lunar nights, the lander and the rover will go into 'sleep mode'.
Ultraviolet telescope and UV camera
The lander is equipped with a 150 mm astronomical telescope coupled to an extreme ultraviolet camera. It would be the first long term lunar-based astronomical observatory, making continuous observations of important celestial bodies to study their light variation and low galactic latitude. The extreme ultraviolet camera will be used to investigate how solar activity affects the ion layer near the Earth.
Three panoramic cameras are installed on the lander, facing different directions. The lander is equipped with a single descent camera that was tested on the Chang’e 2 spacecraft.
The Chang'e 3 mission incorporates a lunar rover named Yutu designed to deploy from the lander and explore the lunar surface independently. Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, was a name selected in an online poll that comes from a Chinese myth about a white rabbit that lives on the Moon.
The development of the six-wheeled rover began in 2002 at the Shanghai Aerospace System Engineering Institute and was completed in May 2010. The rover stands 1.5 m (4.9 ft) high, with a mass of approximately 120 kg (260 lb). With a payload capacity of approximately 20 kg (44 lb), the rover may transmit video in real time, and can dig and perform simple analysis of soil samples. It can navigate inclines and has automatic sensors to prevent it from colliding with other objects.
Energy would be provided by a solar panel, allowing the rover to operate through lunar days. The six-wheeled rover is designed to explore an area of 3 square kilometres (1.2 sq mi) during its 3-month mission, with a maximum travelling distance of 10 km (6.2 mi). The rover equipment is also capable of operating normally at -180°C during the lunar night.
The rover carries a ground-penetrating radar on its underside, allowing for the first direct measurement of the structure and depth of the lunar soil down to a depth of 30 m (98 ft), and investigation of the lunar crust structure down to several hundred meters deep.
There are two panoramic cameras on the mast of the Chang'e 3 rover, along with two navigation cameras (also on the mast) and two hazard avoidance cameras (installed on the lower front portion of the rover).
Topographic data from the Chang'e 1 and 2 orbiters were used to select a landing site for Chang'e 3. The lander is scheduled to land at Sinus Iridum (Latin for "Bay of Rainbows"), located at 44.1°N 31.5°W. Sinus Iridum is a plain formed in a 249 km diameter impact crater, which was subsequently flooded with basaltic lava; it is also a northwestern extension of Mare Imbrium. Chang'e 3 is scheduled to land on 14 December 2013.
Monitoring by other lunar missions
The descent of the Chang'e 3 spacecraft is expected to increase the content of lunar dust in the tenuous lunar exosphere, as well as introduce gases from engine firings during landing. Although there is no formal cooperation between NASA and China National Space Administration, the landing provides an opportunity for NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission to examine possible changes to the baseline readings of the Moon's exosphere and could allow it to study how dust and spent propellant gases settle around the Moon after a landing. For example, one of the combustion byproducts will be water vapor, and LADEE may be able to observe how lunar water is deposited in cold traps near the poles. In addition, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will also monitor the planned landing site for Chang'e 3 activities.
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