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China Moon Space

China's First Lunar Lander To Launch Today; Manned Mission Planned By 2030 137

Posted by timothy
from the new-cheese-mines dept.
c0lo writes "A Chinese Long March rocket is scheduled to blast off to the Moon on Sunday evening at about 6pm UTC carrying a small robotic rover that will touch down on to the lunar surface in about two weeks' time – the first soft landing on the Earth's only natural satellite since 1976. China has been methodically and patiently building up the key elements needed for an advanced space programme — from launchers to manned missions in Earth orbit to unmanned planetary craft — and it is investing heavily. After only 10 years since it independently sent its first astronaut into space, China is forging ahead with a bold three-step programme beginning with the robotic exploration of possible landing sites for the first Chinese astronauts to set foot on lunar soil between 2025 and 2030. Prof Ouyang Ziyuan of the department of lunar and deep space exploration and an adviser to the mission commented to the BBC on the scale of Chinese thinking about the Moon. He said the forthcoming venture would land in an ancient crater 400km wide called Sinus Iridum, thought to be relatively flat and clear of rocks, and explore its geology. China.org.cn promised live coverage of the event."
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China's First Lunar Lander To Launch Today; Manned Mission Planned By 2030

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  • . . .and raise you a busted website.
    Because #Progress.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I predict there will be dead Chinese Astronauts on the moon.

      50% chance they will become stranded and die and 50% change they just crash and die.

      I think I remember reading those were pretty much our odds too.

      • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @11:55AM (#45561329)

        I predict there will be dead Chinese Astronauts on the moon.

        That permanent presence will back their territorial claim over the entire satellite, followed by a declared "defensive identification zone".

        • But will they make you buy insurance in order to visit?
          • But will they make you buy insurance in order to visit?

            With Mooncare coverage (c), not only you get the necessary coverage to visit the moon, we will make sure that your tax dollars be funded into the development of a better Mooncare (c) website !

        • If the US government thinks that another country is going to seriously land humans on the Moon then everything will change. It will become a second Space Race and US people will be the first to land there a second time.
        • Pow! Zoom! Straight to the moon! [veryvintagevegas.com]

        • by kheldan (1460303)
          Yeah, this, except I'll bet you five bucks that once they have their "lander" on the moon, manned or not, they'll try to claim the entire Moon as a Chinese territory.
      • by mlts (1038732) *

        Technology has improved greatly. This doesn't mean it will be trivial to do, but we got people on the moon with computers far less powerful than an embedded Bluetooth controller.

        With the advancement of unmanned space probes, the path to get men back on the moon is made far easier. Things like a blown oxygen tank can be just a blip on a sensor, not a major funeral or cause to build a monument. Of course, this doesn't downplay the effort it takes to get stuff to the moon, but mistakes which would be in the

        • Re:2030? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by taiwanjohn (103839)

          I'll be surprised if there aren't tourists on the moon long before 2030. SpaceX's next-gen "man-rated" Dragon capsule will be flying in a couple of years, and the gap between that and a lunar landing/return capability is pretty well understood territory. It's not quite "off the shelf" yet, but there are plenty of folks working on the necessary technology. And if, in the meantime, they get their Grasshopper RLV into service, that will slash the cost dramatically.

          Hell, Elon expects to have people on Mars befo

        • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @03:20PM (#45562593)

          And it may be that any new lunar lander should use a similarly capable computer. If the urge to use newer hardware takes over, it won't be long before some asshole suggests the next lander be controlled by software written in Java running on Android. Ask the astronauts about the laptops they were given to control ISS systems. But only if you're prepared for an earful.

          Add to that the fact that modern low voltage, tiny feature size hardware is much more susceptible to the affects of cosmic rays than the old gear. Once you leave the Van Allen belts, you're getting pelted with a lot more crap, and it's much easier to flip a bit in modern RAM than it was in the older stuff. If you want radiation-hardened chips, suddenly you're talking about 4 or 5 generations back, if you're lucky. Didn't Intel say they were going to stop making their radiation-hardened gear at all? So now you have to provide external shielding, and preferably multiple redundant tell-me-three-times systems, so if one of them loses its feeble mind during operations, the other two can agree to ignore it and still get you landed in one piece.

          The problem remains nontrivial and expensive simply because nobody has been doing it much. There are no economies of scale beyond LEO and there are only any economies of scale to LEO now because of SpaceX. It won't be easy, for China or anyone else.

          • by cusco (717999)

            there are only any economies of scale to LEO now because of NASA - FTFY

            SpaceX has made what, five commercial flights? Using technologies and equipment developed by NASA and Roscosmos at that. SpaceX is doing interesting things, but let's not get ridiculous.

            • NASA hasn't built a rocket in decades. Let's not get even more ridiculous. SpaceX is using manufacturing techniques NASA has never used. Nor is Roscosmos using them. That's where the economies of scale come from, and they are unique to SpaceX. Neither ULA partner does them either. Judging by the progress of the Chinese space program, they're not using them to build Long March rockets either.

              The engineering may be NASA-derived, but the manufacturing is all SpaceX.

  • Space race anybody? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alexander_686 (957440) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @11:25AM (#45561145)

    Good for them. I wish them the best of luck.

    I kind of hope this kicks off another space race. That would be so much better then a battleship arms race (see WWI) or a nuclear arms race (see cold war).

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Gravis Zero (934156)

      the space race was really about making ICBMs. sputnik intentionally looks like the nose cone of a missile.

      why do you think the whole thing was supported by the DoD?

      • by khallow (566160) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @12:05PM (#45561381)

        the space race was really about making ICBMs. sputnik intentionally looks like the nose cone of a missile.

        It's worth noting that the nose cone of orbital-capable rockets would look like nose cones of ICBM missiles anyway, because they're solving the same problem - handling high atmospheric loading on the front of a rocket.

        And if you're already making ICBM missiles (the R-7 being the first such and the basis for the Sputnik rocket), it makes sense to base an early orbital vehicle off that frame as well for economies of scale (US private industry did the same with the Atlas, Titan, and Delta series).

        So Sputnik probably would have looked like an ICBM even if that wasn't the actual intent of the Soviet program.

      • sputnik intentionally looks like the nose cone of a missile.

        And it was launched with a rocket that had been developed as an ICBM.

        Oddly enough, Redstone (suborbital Mercury flights) was an IRBM, Atlas (orbital Mercury flights) was an ICBM, and Titan (Gemini launches) was an ICBM.

      • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @12:54PM (#45561669) Homepage Journal

        sputnik intentionally looks like the nose cone of a missile.

        Sputnik was spherical. Cones, surprisingly, are conical.

        Stop making stuff up.

        • Sputnik's antenna roughly define a cone. Presumably to fit under the aero shell used at launch.
          • Since there are IIRC four of them you could equally claim it "roughly defines" a square-based pyramid.

            And unless you're close you don't even see the spindly things, just the body. So no, it doesn't look like one at all.

    • A race when an opponent has reached the finish line in friggin 1969?

      Well, apparently a man on the moon is the second technological feat that is impossible today but achievable in the 70.
      The first one is packaging things in a way that can be opened easily. I could easily open a pack of c90 tapes one handed as a 10 years old, I couldn't do the same with CDRs at 25 using both hands, i can't unpack an SD card without some tool now. I guess lasers will be needed in 10 years.

      • You Misunderstand (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday November 30, 2013 @11:57AM (#45561341)

        A race when an opponent has reached the finish line in friggin 1969?

        The equation is different now. There are resources to be mined on the moon. It's not a matter of if we will exploit the moon's natural resources, it's when. China already holds the cards on many basic materials of technology, they would like to hold more.

        • by garyoa1 (2067072)

          It seems inevitable that there are resources to be mined. But the problem is setting up the facilities to mine it in the first place. Then there's shipping. Doesn't make much sense to send a million dollars worth of material back if shipping will cost 10 million dollars. So we're pretty far away from that, IMHO.

          • by g0bshiTe (596213)
            Depends really, if this million dollars of materials easily obtainable here? Is it even available here? Imagine if gold is found on the moon having been formed back during the moons initial creation. You don't think people would mine it regardless the costs.
            • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

              gold isn't formed anywhere, except at the center of the sun. and in my basement from a supply of lead bricks.

              • by Lotana (842533)

                The Sun is not able to produce gold. If I remember correctly, our star is not able to create any matter above the atomic number of iron. All the gold present in our solar system is thought to have come from supernova remnants that occured before the formation.

                What IS the energy requirement of your basement anyway? Does the gold your alchemical process creates covers your electricity bill? :-)

                • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

                  Idk... In California an ounce of gold would buy 50MJ of electricity, which sounds like a lot.

                • by Maritz (1829006)

                  Only very large stars burn up as far as Iron. You're right that elements heavier than Iron require supernovae to be synthesized. The reaction that makes Iron is endothermic.

                  The sun, being a somewhat low mass star by comparison to the giants that make Iron, makes almost all of its energy from the proton-proton chain (e.g. Hydrogen-Helium) and I think about 1% is the CNO (Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen) cycle. The sun will get hotter later on, I'm not sure what elements it will get up to before it turns into a planet

          • Doesn't make much sense to send a million dollars worth of material back if shipping will cost 10 million dollars.

            Not now . Who knows about the future.

            It may not be "profitable" now, but the ground work for the mining technology has to be done sometime.

            And as some commenters have suggested, China may very well declare some large slice of moon to be Chinese territory by having a human plant a flag...

            • by g0bshiTe (596213)
              I thought the UN had put a ban on any country claiming the moon as their territory.

              If it's as simple as planting a flag the US did that.

              I think the first country to establish a permanent settlement on the moon would have more claim over that territory.
              • by khallow (566160)

                I thought the UN had put a ban on any country claiming the moon as their territory.

                And why is that supposed to be relevant? They're a powerless about stuff in space, unless someone with actual relevant power decides to enforce their rules.

                I think the first country to establish a permanent settlement on the moon would have more claim over that territory.

                Quite true. Possession is nine tenths of the law.

              • I think the first country to establish a permanent settlement on the moon would have more claim over that territory.

                And what exactly do you think China is doing developing manned moon mission technology?

          • Electromagnetic rail FTW. You only need what, 1.5 km/s? That's definitely not beyond the realm of possibility.
          • by tibman (623933)

            It doesn't have to go back to Earth. A million dollars worth of fuel on Earth is probably worth 100 million dollars in space.

          • by Maritz (1829006)

            Water is the resource of value on the moon. Not because it's water, per se, but because it's water which is not in Earth's gravity well. Water is propellant, and there will be a big market for propellant up around LEO and further out, because it will be much cheaper to get it from the moon than from Earth, in time. So for me, the premise is wrong - the materials on the moon, when mined, are not bound for Earth, by and large. That would be like smuggling cocaine into Peru. ;)

            Now you could be right about it b

      • by khallow (566160)

        A race when an opponent has reached the finish line in friggin 1969?

        Well, apparently a man on the moon is the second technological feat that is impossible today but achievable in the 70.

        That second part is important. By doing so, China demonstrates that it can do one of the greatest feats that mankind has done to this point. If at the time, the US is incapable of duplicating that feat, then that's a bit of a propaganda advantage in China's favor.

        The first one is packaging things in a way that can be opened easily. I could easily open a pack of c90 tapes one handed as a 10 years old, I couldn't do the same with CDRs at 25 using both hands, i can't unpack an SD card without some tool now. I guess lasers will be needed in 10 years.

        Then you don't get the point of packaging. It does more things than merely protect from physical damage and deliver a product. It markets the product and it protects the product from theft. Merely, throwing a little electrostatic shrinkwrap on such

      • by PPH (736903)

        The first one is packaging things in a way that can be opened easily.

        There is a handy tool designed specifically for opening such packaging. Unfortunately, it comes in its own blister pack.

      • by g0bshiTe (596213)
        The shark will be optional.
      • What makes you believe that they intend to stop at the Moon?

    • by mlts (1038732) *

      Eventually it will. Space is the ultimate high ground, and the nation which controls space can just chunk pieces of metal from a satellite for nuclear-blast effectiveness. No need for nuclear weaponry when throwing rocks or metal rods, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" style works just as well.

      • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

        Eventually it will. Space is the ultimate high ground, and the nation which controls space can just chunk pieces of metal from a satellite for nuclear-blast effectiveness. No need for nuclear weaponry when throwing rocks or metal rods, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" style works just as well.

        I don't understand this point. can you elaborate?

        • by Lotana (842533)

          Your post deserves a much better answer than what you have received thus far. Unfortunately I am not a physicist and my communication skills are terrible, but I will give it a try. Hopefully someone else will come along and give a much better explanation.

          As I understand it, destructive power comes from energy impacted by the projectile. One way to achieve that energy is to have the projectile explode (bombs, artillery shells, nuclear explosions) or just using the kinetic energy (bullets). It is the later ty

          • Your post deserves a much better answer than what you have received thus far. Unfortunately I am not a physicist and my communication skills are terrible, but I will give it a try. Hopefully someone else will come along and give a much better explanation.

            As I understand it, destructive power comes from energy impacted by the projectile. One way to achieve that energy is to have the projectile explode (bombs, artillery shells, nuclear explosions) or just using the kinetic energy (bullets). It is the later type that is being pointed to.

            The damage of the kinetic projectile is (I think) based on the mass of the projectile and the amount of force used to propel it forth. Essentially the more dense the projectile and the more force is used to launch it, the more energy it will transfer on impact. Given large enough values, it is possible that a pure kinetic projectile can transfer more energy than a nuclear explosion.

            The premise of the post is the assumption that a projectile (rocks and rods) simply thrown from a satelite towards the surface of the Earth, has enough potential energy to achieve this level of destruction.

            Or to put it another way. Imagine you are on a train. The faster the train goes, the more energy it'll have if it were to impact. A train going 5 miles a hour might put a dent in a car, but it wouldn't be a disaster. A bullet train moving at 300 miles a hour suddenly hitting a inexplicably appearing car will be on international news. Now, Imagine a titanium rod 10 feet thick being accelerated to escape velocity from the moon. It'll experience minimal slowdown to the almost non-existent lunar atmosphere. As

            • by Maritz (1829006)

              The faster it moves, the bigger the amount of potential energy it'll have.

              I believe the gravitational potential energy is what is being changed into kinetic energy. As it gets closer to the Earth it has less potential energy. I think this is why gravity can be thought of as negative energy.

          • by Maritz (1829006)

            I would agree that's probably what the other poster was getting at. Flinging stuff down to Earth is problematic though on account of the atmosphere. Something going at a few km per second is going to slow down, hard, when hitting the atmosphere. It's probably going to hit turbulent flows of air that make its course/orientation much less certain as well.

            If you make it real big, like the Chicxulub impactor, it's less of a problem. :)

            I think asteroids and comets show that in the end, kinetic definitely rules

    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      The space race was partly fueled due to that cold war.
    • I kind of hope this kicks off another space race.

      For $DIETY's sake why ?

      All the last one did was piss away billions of dollars without returning much of anything. And no, before the fanbois bring it up, it didn't produce anything much in the way of spin-off technologies despite what decades of NASA propoganda would have you believe. (NASA piggybacked on the DoD right down the line - and weather and commsats would have happened without Mercury/Gemini/Apollo.) If you want to expand into space, pre

      • I would argue that they did a lot of great basic science. The type of science for knowledge sakes, which tends to lead to commercial discovers 10 to 20 years later. And yeah, it is hard to qualify. And yeah, when can get into contrafactual arguments that it would have been better to do different research.

        But if we are going to get into a pissing contest with China, I would much rather that it be a space race then a arms race.

        • I would argue that they did a lot of great basic science. The type of science for knowledge sakes, which tends to lead to commercial discovers 10 to 20 years later. And yeah, it is hard to qualify.

          In other words, you want me to accept your argument on faith.

          And yeah, when can get into contrafactual arguments that it would have been better to do different research.

          No, I'm not getting into a contrafactual argument with you because you haven't introduced any facts.

      • by Lotana (842533)

        For $DIETY's sake why ?

        Because the last space race has inspired a generation of kids to pursue careers in engineering and science.

        Who are the role models of kids today? Lady Gaga?

        • A generation of kids? You're got to be kidding - because I'm part of that generation. And there's precisely no evidence that any number of additional children went into science and engineering beyond the proportion that would have anyway.

          And if you think Lady Gaga is all there is to the world absent a space program, you're beyond deluded.

      • What the last one did was raise several generations of kids who dreamed of being scientists and astronauts, not bankers and MBAs. The effect that it had on the progress of human civilization as a whole is hard to quantify, but it is immense.

        • What the last one did was raise several generations of kids who dreamed of being scientists and astronauts, not bankers and MBAs.

          That's the theory. Sadly, there is not on single shred of evidence that the kids so inspired wouldn't have gone on to become scientists and astronauts without the space program. None. Zip. Nada.

          . The effect that it had on the progress of human civilization as a whole is hard to quantify, but it is immense.

          If it's impossible to quantify - how can you state with certaint

      • by manu0601 (2221348)
        They have money to invest. A space programs seems less stupid that inflating another financial bubble. In the worst case it gives back nothing, but at least it does not destroy real economy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Solandri (704621)

      I kind of hope this kicks off another space race.

      I hope not. The 1960s space race was detrimental to long-term manned space travel. Before Sputnik, in the mid-1950s the U.S. plan for getting people into space was with a hypersonic plane [wikipedia.org] which used both aerodynamic lifting surfaces while in the atmosphere, and a rocket for lift when the air got too thin. Several of the X-15 pilots flew high enough to earn the USAF's astronaut wings (50 miles), and two flew high enough to enter the international definitio

      • by Lotana (842533)

        I hope not. The 1960s space race was detrimental to long-term manned space travel.

        Detrimental to long-term?! Even if one were to agree with your view that the space race went in the wrong direction, it still developed technologies that would be essential to any space activity.

        You want human activity in space? That means you need stuff to be launched up there as cheaply as possible. Show me a hypersonic plane design for cargo delivery and tell me how much it could carry per launch. I bet you that it is less than 100 metric tons to Low Earth Orbit. Because only Saturn V (for USA) and Energ

  • The [dividing] line between us and those other nations is surely being narrowed. After the Chinese shot down a satellite [youtube.com] in 2007, I knew it was just a matter of time.

    No wonder they are now challenging us in the east [slashdot.org]. To make matters worse, they own most of our debt [washingtonpost.com]

    If nothing is done, we'll be a nation of no consequence in a few decades.

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      And any new US innovations are routinely stolen by Chinese Gov't hackers and given to Chinese Companies.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Stolen? No, they are just given away, after all since they are produced abroad there is no need to steal anything, we give them the blueprints and even send some engineers to set up production.......

      • Do you mean innovations that are built upon previous innovations and technology, the aggregate of which involves every nation? You might as well say the whole world, the self-entitled and trigger-happy U.S in particular, stole from China because they invented gun powder and the first explosives. There's nothing being made today that is not enabled by centuries of research and innovation by people from all over the world, China included.
    • by rtaylor (70602)

      Agreed. If the chinese are going to the moon you can expect them to stay there permanently, claim ownership, and begin sending back resources (rare-earth metals necessary for many manufactured goods).

      • by petes_PoV (912422)

        begin sending back resources

        What resources? The only natural "resource" the Moon has is being most of the way out of the Earth's gravity well. If there had been anything of value (once the cost of getting to it and shipping it back had been subtracted) there would be permanent Moon bases already ... maybe even ones that are considering declaring independence from their over-taxing overlords.

        • The only natural "resource" the Moon has is being most of the way out of the Earth's gravity well. If there had been anything of value (once the cost of getting to it and shipping it back had been subtracted) there would be permanent Moon bases already

          You don't need to ship things down to Earth from Luna for them to have value. There is evidence of water ice on the Moon. Add energy, you turn that into H2/O2 rocket fuel. near the top of the gravity well.

          Large interplanetary spacecraft would be much ea

    • by russotto (537200)

      So while China is putting robots on the moon, the US has had robots on Mars for some time now. China declared an air defense zone, the US military sent B52s over to pointedly ignore it. (The Japanese and South Korean militaries have also sent flights through the zone without following China's rules). As for the debt, there's a saying that if you owe the bank $100 you have a problem; if you owe the bank $100 million the bank has a problem.

    • by Ksevio (865461) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @02:23PM (#45562309) Homepage

      To make matters worse, they own most of our debt

      That's not true in any sense. The US owns most of its debt. China owns the largest share of foreign held debt (though less than 1/4 of that). Altogether they hold less than 10% of the US debt.

    • by zoffdino (848658)
      The fact that China holds a large portion of US debt highlight their weakness: if they declare war with the US, what stop Congress from passing a constitutional amendment that nullify this holding? They will find their pocket short 1 trillion coins or so. Militarily, China is no match for US. Nobody has invested as heavily in military technologies as the US since World War 2. The Soviet Union went bankrupt trying to keep up. Their own version of the Vietnam War—the Afghan War, drained their treasury m
    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Components. American components, Russian Components, ALL MADE IN TAIWAN!"

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @11:43AM (#45561265)

    Instead of spending tax dollars on hiring people and companies to do the same, the government is choosing to give the money away for nothing in return...except votes. Well played, entrenched politicians.

    • Instead of spending tax dollars on hiring people and companies to do the same

      there is (currently) no reason to go back to the moon. besides, rovers can do a better job of science experiments and are waaaay cheaper to send. we may use it as an outpost for deep space stuff when we get to that point but it's a waste of money right now.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, the hydrogen and oxygen is completely useless. We can send that stuff up from here.

      • Not entirely the point. The general public for the most part doesn't care about rovers because they can't fantasize about being one. But, send humans and people want to be part of it.

  • for their first Crazy Climber.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Googling slashdot over the past 15 years or so, it seems like China is always just ten years away from putting a man on the moon. Vaporware or hype? You decide:

    http://science.slashdot.org/story/02/05/20/1224219/china-plans-moonbase
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/07/10/04/2117217/the-new-moon-race
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/04/05/18/1639246/china-scrubs-moon-mission-plans
    http://science.slashdot.org/story/03/05/30/1227223/

  • An old joke (Score:4, Funny)

    by snaFu07 (1111263) on Saturday November 30, 2013 @01:09PM (#45561785)
    In the old days of Soviet Union and iron curtain, there was a joke about Russians painting Moon red and Americans putting up there Coca-Cola sign after.
    Today it looks more like Moon will be China-red and Coca-Cola sign written by them too....
    • by sconeu (64226)

      It's from Heinlein's The Man Who Sold the Moon [wikipedia.org].

      The protagonist got funding by claiming the Soviets were going to paint a Hammer & Sickle on the moon. He also got funding from the "Moca-Cola" corporation by claiming that rival company "6+" was going to paint a 6+ logo on the moon.

  • by PPH (736903)

    A new lunar crater!

  • Will they plant their flag right next to the U.S. flag?

    And the Russians - they came close but failed in the long run.
  • It's *IN* Sinus Iridum. Sinus Iridum is the "Bay of Rainbows".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Fortuitously, this mission will let LADEE, NASA's recently-launched Lunar atmosphere mission, collect more data:

    http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2013/11262206-change-3.html [planetary.org]

    The coincidence of Chang'e 3 arriving at the Moon after LADEE has begun observations has developed into a serendipitous occurrence for lunar science. Because we don't understand very well how exospheric gases are added to and removed from the Moon, what has landed in our laps is an unplanned (but controlled) experiment. A known quantity of gases - of known composition - will be added to the lunar atmosphere at a precisely known time, in a precisely known place. One could have not designed a better experiment to measure how this addition of material is distributed, how its distribution evolves over time, and how these expelled gases dissipate into cislunar space. Even better, LADEE will have almost a full month to monitor and characterize the lunar atmosphere before Chang'e arrives, thus allowing us to first observe the "natural" Moon and then the "contaminated" Moon and how the lunar atmosphere recovers from its defilement.

    None of this was prearranged - the Chinese schedule their missions on the basis of their own time-table and programmatic needs (just as NASA's lunar goals have changed over the last 5 years). But because of a fortuitous alignment of schedules, we have a unique opportunity to observe in real time how the Moon works. Hopefully, the Chinese will provide us with detailed mass numbers of their spacecraft and exactly what variety of fuel it carries, but even if they don't, physics dictates a certain mass and volume of the exhaust gas and its composition will be measured by LADEE (allowing us to know the type of fuel used). China's December lander mission to the Moon will provide our U.S. mission with a welcome bit of "traffic exhaust," giving scientists the opportunity to learn more from LADEE than we'd originally envisioned.

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