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China Moon Space Science

Chinese Moon Probe Ventures Into Deep Space 167

Posted by timothy
from the been-there-done-that dept.
hackingbear writes "After completing its 6-month moon survey mission, China's second moon orbiter, Chang'e-2, was found to be in excellent condition and has abundant fuel left, and so it set off from its moon orbit into deep space, heading toward Lagrangian point L2 about 1.5 million kilometers away from the earth, or about 4 times farther out than the moon. The orbiter left its moon orbit at 5:10 p.m., according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence. The probe is expected to perform exploration at L2. It is the first Chinese spacecraft to venture beyond the moon and establish the country's capability in deep space exploration."
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Chinese Moon Probe Ventures Into Deep Space

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  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:02PM (#36392172)
    This probe is running away to deep space because it's afraid it will have to work at FoxConn if it ever returns to Earth.
  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:04PM (#36392198)

    And we're cutting back. What do they know that we don't? Hmm...

    • by Zeek40 (1017978)
      How to manage their economy.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        They are managing the US too.

        Back in the 90s there was a property boom in Malaysia and South Korea, largely funded by US investment. It all went sour of course, similar to our own economic problems at the end of the 2000s.

        China decided that they would never allow the US to do that again by managing them. They lent huge amounts of money to the US, keeping their currency artificially low to make loans more favourable. They now have such a large stake in the US economy that any action that might damage the Chi

    • by beschra (1424727)

      It's what we know that they don't: been there done that

      • by tloh (451585)

        Which space craft has already visited L2?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, Herschel Space Observatory and Planck space observatory" (Wikipedia)

        • by Whiternoise (1408981) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @04:02PM (#36392932)
          WMAP, Herschel and Planck are currently there. It's a useful spot for deep space monitoring because the Earth is always partially blocking radiation from the sun, and it [L2] is always in the same place relative to the Earth. Although Wikpedia doesn't say it, the L2 point is also the least energy intensive route to exit a 2-body system (neglecting doing things like slingshots). I would imagine that this is the reason that L2 was chosen rather than out of some deep interest in the point itself. Either that or they're kamikazi-ing into our space telescopes...
    • by jhoegl (638955)
      They know that eventually we have to pay back the debt or start a war.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tripwire45 (798317)
        We're in the middle of three wars (including Yemen) but our economy hasn't gotten any better.
        • by ATestR (1060586)

          Actually four wars, including Yemen. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen. Admittedly Iraq is pretty much over, but we've still got a fair number of troops there.

        • by Rob Riggs (6418) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:48PM (#36392770) Homepage Journal
          1. Iraq
          2. Afghanistan
          3. Libya
          4. Yemen
          5. Drugs
          6. Poverty (lost)
          7. Terrorism
          8. Iran (Cyber)
          9. Cuba (Economic)

          I'm probably forgetting a few.

          10. Pakistan (pardon us while we bomb your sovereign territory).

          So, yes, three wars. For a surprisingly high value of three.
        • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @04:08PM (#36392990) Homepage

          That's because the US makes a big effort not to kill civilians, not to plunder and destroy everything but rather protect and rebuild. If they shifted to WWII era conquest and occupation you'd see profits - and roughly as much resentment as against the nazis (hello Godwin). The smart weapons are ridiculously expensive compared to just bombing the fuck out of everything. If they stopped giving a shit about protecting civilians and only protected themselves, answered all attacks with massive force, terrified the civilians into cooperating with them rather than Al-Quaeda you'd see costs plummet and profits soar. So it's not that war can't be profitable, just not the way the US is running them now.

          • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @04:45PM (#36393340)

            That's because the US makes a big effort not to kill civilians,

            While the US doesn't generally engage in atrocities (though there have been instances e.g. in Vietnam [hnn.us]) their track record isn't exactly stellar. There's a big effort to keep it out of the US media, I'll grant you that but in the latest Iraq war there were a lot of reports of bombed hospitals [commondreams.org] and the like available to us not dependent on the US media.

            not to plunder and destroy everything but rather protect and rebuild.

            That's a joke, it's been true in exactly 1 case: world war 2. Again, in the latest middle eastern wars the "rebuilding effort" seem to be schemes to throw money at corporation friendly to the regime like Halliburton. What is built isn't worth shit, or it only gets half done and is of poor quality, funds go missing (9 billion [aljazeera.net] of Iraqi oil money "missing" at last count), etc. (See for example Scandals, Military, Iraq War, Graft and Fraud [beachblogger.net]

            If they shifted to WWII era conquest and occupation you'd see profits - and roughly as much resentment as against the nazis (hello Godwin). The smart weapons are ridiculously expensive compared to just bombing the fuck out of everything. If they stopped giving a shit about protecting civilians and only protected themselves, answered all attacks with massive force, terrified the civilians into cooperating with them rather than Al-Quaeda you'd see costs plummet and profits soar. So it's not that war can't be profitable, just not the way the US is running them now.

            The wars are plenty profitable. Not for the US government but for arms dealers, the corrupt contractors that swarm all over the occupied territories and the politicians that retire to cushy jobs on their boards. Follow the money (if it doesn't go "missing" that is.)

          • If you're going to be a douche though it's cheaper to just befriend evil-doers. Why bother mercilessly bombing countries that piss you off when you can just ignore them and pat them on the back.

          • "If they stopped giving a shit about protecting civilians and only protected themselves, answered all attacks with massive force, terrified the civilians into cooperating with them rather than Al-Quaeda you'd see costs plummet and profits soar."

            IIRC, these tactics didn't work out so well for the Soviets in Afghanistan....

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            If they stopped giving a shit about protecting civilians and only protected themselves, answered all attacks with massive force, terrified the civilians into cooperating with them rather than Al-Quaeda you'd see costs plummet and profits soar

            Those civilians are supposed to be the reason our troops are there in the first place, so it would be a bit fucking stupid to make them suffer enormously just for our convenience. That's not exactly going to win hearts and minds. We are supposed to be a liberating, not an invasion force.
            When Allied troops were fighting the Germans in France and Belgium in 1944 they most certainly didn't go around bombing French and Belgian civilians willy nilly. When the war at the end moved into Germany, that was a diff

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          We're in the middle of three wars (including Yemen) but our economy hasn't gotten any better.

          Really? I'm obviously not keeping up with the news.

      • They are not too worried seeing how they are still investing in US securities and bonds. Also people tend to overestimate the amount of securities they have purchased which was only about 7% of all outstanding issues.
      • The debt to the PRC is a tiny percentage of the US's total national debt. Stop repeating the "PRC owns the US" meme, because it's stupid.
        • by jdray (645332)

          I don't think "almost half" counts as "a tiny percentage":

          http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/mar/02/chinas-debt-to-us-treasury-more-than-indicated/ [washingtontimes.com]

          • Did you read your own article? It specifically says that even the "real" number is about a trillion dollars. The US debt is between $14tn and $15tn. What universe do you live in that has the kind of math where 1/14 is "almost half"?
            • by tftp (111690)

              What universe do you live in that has the kind of math where 1/14 is "almost half"?

              You can sleep well knowing that you owe $14K to your father. However a $1K debt to the local crime boss may kill you.

        • "Mr. Johnson, a former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund, estimated that China owns about $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities [washingtontimes.com], or nearly half the $2.37 trillion stock of Treasury debt held by “foreign official” owners."

          That's a trillion out of a total of 14 trillion [wikipedia.org]. Plenty to economically ruin the US if they decided is worth a trillion dollars to them to do so. They just need to announce they want to sell a significant portion of it because they lack confidence in the doll

          • by amiga3D (567632)

            The problem with doing that is they will be destroying a big segment of their market. When the US economy revamped and recovered they'd find it might be a lot more competitive also. Best to leave sleeping dogs alone.

          • by Nadaka (224565)

            They can't just demand the money, not legally. its on a fixed payment schedule. They can't do much more than stop issuing new debt.

    • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:25PM (#36392476)

      That education and the pursuit of knowledge is a GOOD thing, not just for "intellectual elitists."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by thrich81 (1357561)
      This is a common meme, but I don't think it holds up objectively. For example, the US currently has an operating lunar orbiter (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter) as well as operating spacecraft in orbit around Mercury, Mars, and Saturn. The US will soon be launching a new orbiter to Jupiter. The US Dawn spacecraft will enter orbit around the asteroid Vesta this July. This is a golden age for US planetary exploration. The US manned program is hitting a slow spot, which gets all the news and it remains to be
    • by Nyeerrmm (940927) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:44PM (#36392728)

      Are we? We're cutting back on Apollo-style manned stunts, but thats about it. We have a moon mission and two deep space missions launching in the next 6 months, with plenty already in flight and plenty more in development. The last round of mission prioritization pushed to do a lot of smaller missions rather than a few big ones -- different, but certainly not cutting back.

      • China has a few "Apollo-style manned stunts" coming up next year, planned at least. (Shenzhou program, which has already had successful manned launches.)

        We've been doing planetary probing for decades. Sure, the instruments have gotten more sensitive and we can fit more into a single launch, and don't get me wrong I've got nothing against probes and orbiters (Cassini-Huygens is awesome), but we're regressing to our mid 70s where space is concerned, while China's entering their 60s.

        • Just because the next generation of manned spacecraft isn't launching a giant glider into orbit every launch doesn't mean that it is going back to the 1970s.
        • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

          Well, this article and discussion are more generally on deep space exploration, which implies probes, thus why I focused on probes.

          And we still have plenty of manned operations too. ISS is scheduled to fly till 2020 now, and we have multiple vehicles in development (Orion, Dragon, Dreamchaser), one of which has already flown unmanned. When I say stunts, I mean massively funded spectaculars that do surprisingly little to advance us on a sustainable path to human exploration -- Apollo gave up on that when t

        • by murdocj (543661)

          The USA has landers on Mars, is orbiting Mercury, is putting up telescopes that can probe back to the very origin of the universe, has 2 probes venturing outside the solar system, has private companies starting up space tourism... and yet, somehow, it's not enough, because the Chinese have launched a couple of guys into earth orbit.

          Suppose the position was reversed. The Chinese landed on the moon in the 1960's, currently had probes and landers all over the solar system, had been partners with the Russians

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SoTerrified (660807)

      And we're cutting back. What do they know that we don't? Hmm...

      What do the Chinese know that we don't?
      Math [nytimes.com]
      Science [bloomberg.com]

      And in the US, we want creationism taught in biology classes and forbid schools from using the word 'gay'.

      'Nuff said.

    • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Thursday June 09, 2011 @04:24PM (#36393128) Journal

      They know that they have shitloads of money while the traitors in congress are giving tax breaks to their corporate buddies to send our jobs overseas? Look up "GE tax break outsourcing" to really make yourself sick, here is a CEO bragging, and I quote "We're not sending the low skills jobs, we are sending the good jobs because that's where the money is now" while he cashes his big giant tax rebate check. Well no shit that is where the money is, that is because you and your douchebag traitor friends have shipped more than 21,000 FACTORIES overseas since 2001. Considering we are at war I don't know why these douchebags aren't lined up and shot for the traitors that they are.

      As for TFA enjoy it while you can China. These same douchebags you're making money on now will be more than happy to fuck you after they are done poisoning your land and exploiting everything they can, then they'll leave you with a shitload of superfund sites to deal with while they quietly cash out and find the next country to exploit.

      • by spongman (182339)

        I don't know why

        because those are the douchebags that pay the politicians who pay the media companies to tell you who to vote for.

    • by greg_barton (5551)

      They know that they'll have plenty of radioactive material with which to fuel deep space craft due to their development of liquid fluoride thorium reactors. (That and they'll have limitless electricity as a cool byproduct...) See energyfromthorium.com [energyfromthorium.com] Currently China is the only state actively pursuing LFTR development, though it was invented in America at the Oak Ridge National Lab.

    • China expanding into space? Really?

      This is one probe, and when stacked with their (proceeding at a continental drift pace) manned program... Doesn't at all compare with what the US is accomplishing [1], let alone what it has accomplished.

      I'm as concerned about where the US is going as the next guy, but let's leave the ignorant, ill educated, and reflexive US bashing a rest shall we?

      [1] One probe at Mercury, one rover and and two orbiters at Mars, one probe in the Asteroid Belt, and

      • I'm as concerned about where the US is going as the next guy, but let's leave the ignorant, ill educated, and reflexive US bashing a rest shall we?

        Always better to be concerned early. If, in 10 years, we're still without a manned spacecraft, the ISS is in decay due to a lack of heavy lifters to get it back in a stabler LEO, meanwhile the Chinese have Heping orbiting and regular launches to it...well, there's much more ground to cover

        Plus the earlier you show concern, the bigger your 'I told you so' rights

        • by murdocj (543661)

          Ok... suppose the USA never ever launches another manned space mission. 10 years from now the Chinese have the equivalent of the ISS and 25-30 years from now they land on the moon. Remind me of how this will be a disaster for the USA?

          • by tftp (111690)

            Remind me of how this will be a disaster for the USA?

            Manned spaceflight itself is largely pointless these days, but it is a useful indicator. Space capabilities closely follow the economic and scientific might of a country.

            Besides, if you have a well funded lab with brilliant scientists you always have a chance to discover something that changes the world (and you will be in control of that something.) If you have a well funded law office with brilliant lawyers you won't discover anything of value to t

            • by murdocj (543661)

              Well, we do have a bunch of smart guys working on space flight, e.g. John Carmack. They just don't happen to work for the government.

              Don't get me wrong, I grew up on science fiction, I do believe humans will someday walk on other worlds, and it drives me nuts that if I could just raise enough money and overcome some phobias I could fly to the ISS. But no one, and I mean NO ONE, has come up with a rationale as to why it has to happen now, when the USA is already in the hole. Sure, research is good... but

    • by Palmsie (1550787)

      Don't worry, when their housing bubble pops they'll wish they retrieved all that extra fuel and metal.

  • > The probe is expected to perform exploration at L2.

    What do they expect to explore at the L2 point? It is just an empty spot in space.

    sPh

    And any alien reconnaissance satellites parked there would presumably be stealthed.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Stealthed or not the Chinese can try to run into them.

    • by Lifyre (960576)

      Maybe they won't be paying attention and we'll (the human we) find them by playing a little bumper tag.

    • by tloh (451585) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:32PM (#36392576)

      From the Wikipedia article on Lagrangian point:

      "The Sun-Earth L2 is a good spot for space-based observatories. Because an object around L2 will maintain the same orientation with respect to the Sun and Earth, shielding and calibration are much simpler."

    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      I can't say for sure what they plan, but Earth-Moon L2 point is also a good hopping off point to to hit a lot of interesting places.

      If you can match up the equal-energy contours in the Earth-Moon system with similar contours in the Earth-Sun system you can escape from the Earth system with a very modest maneuvers. The GRAIL mission launching in a few months is a good example of this (going the other way). This could make it pretty easy some new asteroids that have never been imaged before, and you could e

  • I was going to park there...

  • I am curious if anyone here knows that microprocessors and OSes they are using on the craft and its instruments.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:46PM (#36392750)

    - the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, Herschel Space Observatory and Planck Space Observatory. One would hope the Chinese would take steps not only to avoid crashing into those but also to avoid interrupting the science those are performing. I'm sure the ops people for all of those craft are scrambling now to understand what the Chinese are doing and what they might have to do to compensate.

    Usually all the contingencies for a spacecraft are worked out long in advance - I think it disingenuous to suggest they just decided to take a joy ride with their remaining fuel.

    • by Nadaka (224565)

      Space is astronomically large. The odds of an accidental collision are astronomically small. If their satellite hits one of ours, it will have been intentional.

    • by vuo (156163)
      These are actually in Lissajous orbits around L2. Just like a massive body, L2 is an energy minimum. You can put satellites in orbit around it, even in several different orientations even though it's empty space.
    • by argStyopa (232550)

      I wouldn't be too optimistic.

      Recall that there was neither a great deal of planning (apparently) nor forethought in their demolition of a satellite in LEO what, 2 summers ago?

  • Maybe... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Roduku (950552) on Thursday June 09, 2011 @03:55PM (#36392856)
    they want to check out that shack outside Lagrange
  • That's no moon probe!
  • I fail to understand why it has to be a race. If the Chinese want to go ahead we should let them. Why is it that we want to always stop others from doing something? Do we think that we can always be the dominant country in the world ?or for that matter any other country can continue to be the dominant country for ever ?
    • by Orffen (1994222)

      It doesn't have to be a race. We can put it off for a couple hundred years, maybe tool around here on Earth a while longer.

      But then when we decide we want to go up and the Chinese say "no I don't think so" while pointing their space lasers at us, it might be a bit hard to get there.

      Kennedy said it best at Rice - "Whether it will become a force for good or ill depends on man, and only if the United States occupies a position of pre-eminence can we help decide whether this new ocean will be a sea of peace or

      • If we're to have a space overlord, I'd rather it be of the United States/Europe/Japan variety than the China variety.

        Neither of them have had a good track record as a land overload. Amazing people would blindly follow their "we are the good guy" crap.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      It's hardly a race. L2 is -not- in deep space. Here's some numbers:

      The distance from earth to mars at it's shortest (eg when we are in a line with it and the sun) is about 54 million KM.

      The distance from the earth to the moon is about 0.4 million KM.

      The earth/sun L2 is about 1.5 million KM from the earth.

      Translation? When taken to scale, the L2 is practically still in our orbit. It's not deep space.

  • ...but it's not L2, at least as described in the summary. The Earth-Luna L2 point is just 64500 km further out from Earth than the center of Luna, less than 1/6 of the Earth-Luna distance.

  • You can say "1.5 Gigameters".

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