Chang'e 3 lander on the lunar surface,
imaged by the Yutu rover
|Mission type||Lander and rover|
|Mission duration||Lander: 1 year
Rover: 3 months
|Manufacturer||Shanghai Aerospace System Engineering Institute|
|BOL mass||3,800 kg (8,400 lb)|
|Landing mass||1,200 kg (2,600 lb)
Rover: 140 kg (310 lb)
|Dimensions||Rover: 1.5 m (4.9 ft) high|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||1 December 2013, 17:30UTC|
|Rocket||Long March 3B Y-23|
|Launch site||Xichang LC-2|
|Landing date||14 December 2013, 13:11 UTC|
|Landing site||Mare Imbrium
Chang'e 3 (pronunciation: //; simplified Chinese: 嫦娥三号; traditional Chinese: 嫦娥三號; pinyin: Cháng'é sān hào) is a lunar exploration mission operated by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), incorporating a robotic lander and China's first lunar rover. It was launched in December 2013 as part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.
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 (Chinese: 玉兔; literally "Jade Rabbit") following an online poll, after the mythological rabbit that lives on the Moon as a pet of the Moon goddess.
- 1 History
- 2 Objectives
- 3 Mission profile
- 4 Monitoring by other lunar missions
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
In January 2004, the People's Republic of 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 crashed into the surface of the Moon. Data gathered by Chang'e 1 were used to create an accurate and high-resolution 3D 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, planning to perform lunar surface and space studies independently of the mission's mobile rover. Like its orbiting predecessors, the Chang'e 3 mission is seen 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 demonstrate and develop key technologies for future missions. The scientific objectives of Chang'e 3 include 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.
Chang'e 3 was launched at 17:30 UTC on 1 December 2013 (01:30 local time on 2 December) atop a Long March 3B rocket flying from Launch Complex 2 at 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 (31 to 43 mi) long and 30 km (19 mi) wide.
Chang'e 3 entered a 100 km (62 mi)-high circular lunar orbit on 6 December 2013, 9:53 UTC. The orbit was obtained after 361 seconds of variable thrust engine braking from its single main engine. Later, the spacecraft adopted a 15 km (9.3 mi) × 100 km (62 mi) elliptic orbit. The landing took place one week later, on 14 December. At periapsis, its variable thrusters were again fired in order to reduce its velocity, descending to 100 m (330 ft) above the Moon's surface. It hovered at this altitude, moving horizontally under its own guidance to avoid obstacles, before slowly descending to 4 m (13 ft) above the ground, at which point its engine was shut down for a free-fall onto the lunar surface. The landing sequence took about 12 minutes to complete.
Topographic data from the Chang'e 1 and 2 orbiters were used to select a landing site for Chang'e 3. The planned landing site was Sinus Iridum, but the lander actually descended on Mare Imbrium, about 40 km south of the 6 km diameter Laplace F crater, at 44.1214°N, 19.5116°W (2640 m elevation), on 14 December 2013, 13:11 UTC.
With a landing mass of 1,200 kg (2,600 lb), it also carried and deployed the 140 kg (310 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, along with its solar panels, during its planned one-year 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 14-day lunar nights, the lander and the rover will go into 'sleep mode'.
Lunar-based ultraviolet telescope (LUT)
The lander is equipped with a 150 mm (5.9 in) Ritchey–Chrétien telescope that will be used to observe galaxies, active galactic nuclei, variable stars, binaries, novae, quasars and blazars in the near-UV band (245-340 nm), and is capable of detecting objects at a brightness as low as magnitude 13. The thin atmosphere and slow rotation of the Moon allow extremely long, uninterrupted observations of a target. The LUT will be the first long term lunar-based astronomical observatory, making continuous observations of important celestial bodies to study their light variation and better improve our current models.
Extreme ultraviolet (EUV) camera
The lander also carries an extreme ultraviolet (30.4 nm) camera, which will be used to observe the Earth's plasmasphere in order to examine its structure and dynamics and to investigate how it is affected by solar activity.
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 development of the six-wheeled rover began in 2002 at the Shanghai Aerospace System Engineering Institute and was completed in May 2010. The rover has a total mass of approximately 140 kg (310 lb), with a payload capacity of approximately 20 kg (44 lb). The rover may transmit video in real time, and can perform simple analysis of soil samples. It can navigate inclines and has automatic sensors to prevent it from colliding with other objects.
Energy is provided by 2 solar panels, allowing the rover to operate through lunar days, as well as charging its batteries. At night the rover is powered down to a large extent, and is kept from getting too cold by the use of several radioisotope heater units (RHUs). The RHUs provide only thermal energy and no electricity.
The rover was deployed from the lander, and made contact with the lunar surface on 14 December, 20:35 UTC. On 17 December it was announced that all of the scientific tools apart from the spectrometers had been activated, and that both the lander and rover were "functioning as hoped, despite the unexpectedly rigorous conditions of the lunar environment". However, from 16 December to 20 December the rover did not move, having shut down its subsystems. Direct solar radiation had raised the temperature on the sunlit side of the rover to over 100°C, while the shaded side simultaneously fell below zero. Since then, the lander and rover have finished taking pictures of each other and will commence their respective science missions.
The 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 demonstrated its ability to endure its first lunar night when it was commanded out of sleep mode on 11 January 2014. On 25 January 2014, China's state media announced the rover had undergone a "mechanical control abnormality" caused by the "complicated lunar surface environment". 
The rover established contact with mission control on 13 February 2014, but it is still suffering from a "mechanical abnormality". 
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR)
The rover carries a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) 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 and two navigation cameras on the rover's mast, which stands ~1.5 m (4.9 ft) above the lunar surface, as well as two hazard avoidance cameras installed on the lower front portion of the rover. Each camera pair may be used to capture stereoscopic images, or for range imaging by triangulation.
Monitoring by other lunar missions
The descent of the Chang'e 3 spacecraft was 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 the China National Space Administration, the landing provided 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 will allow it to study how dust and spent propellant gases settle around the Moon after a landing. For example, one of the lander's combustion byproducts is water vapor, and LADEE may be able to observe how lunar water is deposited in cold traps near the poles. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) took a photograph of the landing site on 25 December 2013 in which the lander and the rover can be seen. LRO also attempted to photograph the lander and rover on 22 January 2014, and will attempt to on 18 February 2014.
- "Chang'e-3: China To Launch First Moon Rover In 2013". Asian Scientist. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "Chang’e-3 Coming Into Focus". Lunar Enterprise Daily. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- "Most Chang'e-3 science tools activated". Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "China Starts Manufacturing Third Lunar Probe". English.cri.cn. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- "China's Chang'e-3 to land on Moon next year". China Daily. 11 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
- "China Readying 1st Moon Rover for Launch This Year". Space.com. 19 June 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- Ramzy, Austin (26 November 2013). "China to Send 'Jade Rabbit' Rover to the Moon". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- China Moon rover enters lunar orbit: Xinhua
- "China lands Jade Rabbit robot rover on Moon". BBC. 14 December 2013.
- Barbosa, Rui C. (14 December 2013). "China's Chang'e-3 and Jade Rabbit duo land on the Moon". NASAspaceflight.com. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
- "Backgrounder: Timeline of China's lunar program". Xinhua (CCTV - English). 26 November 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
- "China's 1st Moon orbiter enters Earth orbit". Xinhua News Agency. 24 October 2007. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
- "Missions to the Moon | The Planetary Society". Planetary.org. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- Guodong, Du (1 March 2009). "China's lunar probe Chang'e-1 impacts Moon". Xinhua. Retrieved 1 March 2009.
- "Asia Times Online :: China News, China Business News, Taiwan and Hong Kong News and Business". Atimes.com. 16 April 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- "China publishes first map of whole lunar surface". 12 November 2008. Retrieved 12 November 2008.
- Stephen Clark (1 October 2010). "China's second Moon probe dispatched from Earth". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
- "Update on yesterday's post about Chang'E 2 going to Toutatis". Planetary Society. 15 June 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- "Deep space fly-by: Incredible pictures taken by Chinese probe passing asteroid show giant rock 4.5 million miles from Earth". Daily Mail. 15 December 2012. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
- "China could make Moon landing in 2025 | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- SUN ZeZhou; JIA Yang, and ZHANG He (November 2013). "Technological advancements and promotion roles of Chang'e-3 lunar probe mission". Science China (PDFdoi:10.1007/s11431-013-5377-0.) 56 (11): 2702–2708.
- O'Neil, Ian (14 December 2013). "China's Rover Rolls! Yutu Begins Moon Mission". Discovery News (CCTV). Retrieved 2013-12-15.
- Shukman, David (29 November 2013). "Why China is fixated on the Moon". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
- "欧阳自远：嫦娥三号明年发射将实现着陆器与月球车联合探测". Xinhua. 14 June 2012. Retrieved 23 July 2013.
- Rocket debris hits Chinese village The Guardian, 4 December 2013.
- 'Solutions' necessary for rocket accidents China Daily, 4 December 2013.
- "Chang'e-3 enters lunar orbit". Xinhuanet. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- "Chang'e 3 Diary". Zarya.info. 6 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
- "Chang'e 3 landing coordinates". China News (CN). 14 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
- Lakdawalla, Emily; Stooke, Phil (December 2013). "Chang'e 3 has successfully landed on the Moon!". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 2013-12-15.
- "NASA Images of Chang'e 3 Landing Site".
- David, Leonard. "China Lands On The Moon: Historic Robotic Lunar Landing Includes 1st Chinese Rover". Space.com. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
- Molnár, László (24 May 2013). "Chang'e-3 revealed – and its massive!". Pull Space Technologies. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
- Wiener-Bronner, Danielle (2 December 2013). "China Shoots for the Moon with Its First Lunar Lander". The Wire. Retrieved 2013-12-09.
- "Chang'e 3". SPACEFLIGHT101. Retrieved 2 December 2013.
- 2013 - Launches to Orbit and Beyond. Zarya. 1 December 2013.
- "Chang'e 3: The Chinese Rover Mission". AmericaSpace. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "登月车构造原理". 新华网. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2008.
- "中国首辆登月车工程样机". 新华网. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 24 April 2008.
- "China considering manned lunar landing in 2025–2030". Xinhua. 24 May 2009. Retrieved 1 October 2010.
- "Live* Yutu Rover "Jade Rabbit" separates from lander on the Moon". YouTube. 14 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- "China's Yutu "naps", awakens and explores". Retrieved 2013-12-21.
- Chang'e 3 MIssion Updates
- China's first moon rover has experienced a "mechanical control abnormality" - Australian Broadcasting Corporation - Retrieved 25 January 2014.
- McKirdy, Euan (13 February 2014). "Down but not out: Jade Rabbit comes back from the dead". CNN. Retrieved 2014-02-13.
- ""嫦娥三号"发射成功 将于5天后到达月球". Netease. 2 December 2013. paragraph “月兔”将巡天观地测月.
- "Chang'e 3 update with lots of pictures: Yutu begins lunar journey".
- Lakdawalla, Emily (5 December 2013). "Chang'e 3 and LADEE updates -- and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, too, for good measure". The Planetary Society. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- David, Leonard (21 November 2013). "China's 1st Moon Lander May Cause Trouble for NASA Lunar Dust Mission". Space.com. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- "NASA Images of Chang'e 3 Landing Site". 30 December 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014.
- Official coverage on China Central Television (English)
- Snapshots from Space at The Planetary Society website
- Chang'e 3 diary from zarya.info
- Chang'e 3 - Mission Overview at Spaceflight101