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China Moon Space

Photos Stream Back From China's Lunar Lander 268

After the successful soft landing of its carrier vessel on the surface of the moon, China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover has begun beaming back photos of the lunar surface. From the BBC's article, with links to video as well as several photos, comes this description: "Chang'e-3 is the third unmanned rover mission to touch down on the lunar surface, and the first to go there in more than 40 years. The last was an 840kg (1,900lb) Soviet vehicle known as Lunokhod-2, which was kept warm by polonium-210. But the six-wheeled Chinese vehicle carries a more sophisticated payload, including ground-penetrating radar which will gather measurements of the lunar soil and crust. The 120kg (260lb) Jade Rabbit rover can reportedly climb slopes of up to 30 degrees and travel at 200m (660ft) per hour. ... The rover and lander are powered by solar panels but some sources suggest they also carry radioisotope heating units (RHUs), containing plutonium-238 to keep them warm during the cold lunar night. According to Chinese space scientists, the mission is designed to test new technologies, gather scientific data and build intellectual expertise. It will also scout valuable mineral resources that could one day be mined."
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Photos Stream Back From China's Lunar Lander

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  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:02PM (#45698839) Homepage Journal
    That first photo makes me think they are coming back with tablets and commandments...
    • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:35PM (#45699115) Journal

      It's time for those who insisted that the moon landing by the Apollo astronauts were fake to stop spreading their falsehood.

      The moon pictures that the Yutu rover and the Chang'e 3 lander take look very much like the pictures that NASA provided us some 40-odd years ago - of course they can try to claim that these new batch of pictures are fake as well.

      I do not understand why there are still people holding on to that kind of conspiracy theory. I just do not understand.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:39PM (#45699135)

        Pics or it didn't hap-... Uh, wait...

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

      • by Sean ( 422 )

        Hopefully the Chinese will release some high quality pictures. I'm not suggesting the moon landings were fake, but given the overall cost and engineering that goes into such an endeavor, I don't think it's unreasonable to expect photos of the same quality I can take with my cell phone.

        I read that the first images we see now are low quality to keep transmission time low. The high quality ones, including full video of the decent, will follow.

        • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @11:28PM (#45700605) Journal

          According to this page (which I do not know if the info is true or not)


          it claims the following:

          A. The Chang'e 3 lander has a powerful HD science cameras that can send at a rate of one image per second.

          B. The Yutu rover will be sending high-definition images, including panoramas, back to Earth.


          C. Ouyang Ziyuan, one of the chief scientists on the Chang'e-3 mission, said the in an interview: ( @ [] )

          "Number one: space observation from the moon. This is the dream of many astronomers because atmosphere, wind, snow and pollution don't obstruct visibility as they do on earth. The result is also better because of the longer periods of uninterrupted observation from the moon due to it orbiting the earth. One day of observation on the moon is equivalent to 14 days on earth.

          Number two: we have an ultraviolet camera on the lander to monitor the earth. This camera is different from the one used by America's Apollo 16. Ours can see the formation of the earth's plasmasphere and its density change. It's better than a satellite, which can only record data section by section as it orbits around the earth. On the moon it can observe half of earth at a time without moving. This is something people have always wanted to do.

          Number three: we will be the first to learn the structure and layers of the moon 100 meters below its surface with radars installed at the bottom of the rover. As the rover drives on the lunar surface, it will be as [if] it can cut and see what's 100 meters below. "

      • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Monday December 16, 2013 @12:24AM (#45700867) Journal

        I don't think the Chinese have the technology to fake a landing, so they had to do it for real.

      • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Monday December 16, 2013 @01:56AM (#45701215) Journal
        Let's be honest, anyone who still thought that the moon landings were fakes, isn't going to be convinced by this either.
  • As far exerybody can thrust the submitter =P on the matter, giving us some links for references would not had hurt anyone. :-)

  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:06PM (#45698883)

    I heard that the Sea of Tranquility is now the South China Sea of Tranquility.

    • by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:32PM (#45699089) Homepage Journal

      Also, they found living organisms and they are delicious.

    • You jest but what do you think will happen globally if China starts planting flags and claiming the moon for their own personal use?

      • First one do to so deserves to keep what they can keep a footing on, I'd say.

        • Which would be nothing once our government drops a rock on their camp site and calls it a meteor strike.

          • Don't you think any serious lunar presence would kind of plan for the possibility of large rocks? Us sending one specifically is just messing with probability a little.

            Not to mention we would have to first find a rock to drop, and do all that without anyone noticing.

      • Considering that China has signed and ratified the Outer Space Treaty [] (which explicitly forbids any government from claiming a celestial resource such as the Moon or a planet), they'd probably get a few stern words and looks. On the other hand, if they actually manage to mine and transport something back, then there might be some mild repercussions.
        • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @09:28PM (#45699933)

          The treaty doesn't say anything about them not being able to mine the shit out of the moon. It just says they can't claim territory or place nukes in space (which you can be damned sure we've already breached) It also says the parties retain rights over whatever the launch into space, so should they start building mining platforms and shipping stuff back, we couldn't touch the equipment without breaching the treaty.

        • Then again that treaty has language which states all any signatory country needs to do (including China) is to give a one year's notification that they are withdrawing from the treaty. They China (or America or Russia) can do whatever they want to do with no need to worry about a pesky treaty that might get in the way.

          Besides, there is really no enforcement provision that stops any country from claiming sovereign territory other than it might be causus belli (a rationale for war) for other countries to step in and try to stop them. That likely would happen with or without the treaty anyway so it is mainly window dressing and nothing more on that point.

          If there was some extra-terrestrial real estate that some country really wanted to claim, I think that one year notification rule would be plenty of time before anybody else could get to that same hunk of rock in the sky.

      • by Goody ( 23843 )

        If China plants flags all the US needs to do is send a robot to the moon that finds flags and shreds them. Problem solved.

        • but you are forgetting one thing: the deflagulators are all made in china! and now, they won't sell us any; now that we've revealed our true intentions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Sea of Tranquility has always been part of China.

    • Of course, if we in the US landed today, it would be the AT&T Sea of Tranquility.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In addition to the Chinese moon-rover landing Iran is claiming a 2nd successful launch and recovery of a Rhesus macaque. []

    And Slashdot has already reported about India's Martian expedition.

  • Rocks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:17PM (#45698969) Journal

    There are some rocks of significant size immediately behind the rover. Those are certainly large enough for the rover to get hung on or to flip it over on its side. I'm surprised the lander touched down within just a few feet of rocks like that. Either their hazard avoidance system looks only directly beneath the footprint of the lander, or it failed to properly detect those rocks. Had it landed just 50% closer to those rocks, the ramp the rover descended would have been right on them..

    • by spasm ( 79260 )

      You forgot the third option - the hazard avoidance system saw the rocks and avoided them. The fact the lander didn't hit them suggests this is at least a plausable option..

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:21PM (#45699003)

    Is keeps Russian probes warm and turns Russian spys cold [].

  • by anyanka ( 1953414 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:23PM (#45699019)

    They better be careful... We all remember what happened to the Tsien. Fortunately, this one is not manned...

  • Normally people buy flying toys from China and are happy to have them land without crashing. China brought a really big toy from Russia and was happy to not crash it. I think more congratulations should be directed to Russia than China. Russia has a thriving space program even if it is via proxy. Maybe America needs to take a page out of Russia's book and licence more tech to places like China to allow them to continue space exploration while America seems to lack the will. At least then if something does
  • Congratulations! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 15, 2013 @07:55PM (#45699245)

    My congratulations to the scientists and engineers that made this mission work! A difficult job done well!

  • Congrats to China (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @08:19PM (#45699437)

    Seriously, I'm glad somebody else is going into space. NASA seems to be doing well in deeper space - Mars rovers, missions far out into the solar system, and deep-space satellites - but we still have plenty to discover in our own backyard.

    Even though the rocketry task has been done before (putting a rover on the moon) there's a hell of a lot of difference between a 1960's Soviet rover and a 2010's rover, so they're going to be uncovering plenty of new stuff.

  • Grats to China!

    Please go take pictures of the U.S Rovers and launch pads so the sales of books and DVD's that the USA never landed on the moon make them look like the foolish people they are :)

  • I'm not sure if it's me projecting things but do those rockets and robots _look_ Chinese to anyone else? How it that possible?
  • by speedlaw ( 878924 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @09:26PM (#45699921) Homepage
    You have to get out of need to get to the need to get into lunar orbit and then land....successfully. Read the history of the Ranger Program to see how much work this took the US, and they were crashing onto the moon, not trying to land a working Rover. Getting the insertions correct is not easy. China has done something difficult and laudable. While I'm sure they had the full data from the US program, and the USSR program, making this happen is still a great achievement. I have noticed how the US media is paying little attention to this......
    • You have to get out of need to get to the need to get into lunar orbit and then land....successfully. Read the history of the Ranger Program to see how much work this took the US, and they were crashing onto the moon, not trying to land a working Rover. Getting the insertions correct is not easy. China has done something difficult and laudable.

      While I'm sure they had the full data from the US program, and the USSR program, making this happen is still a great achievement.

      I have noticed how the US media is paying little attention to this......

      Just as I was reading this (8:10am Eastern time, 12/16/13), the chinese rover was prominently mentioned on the Today show (NBC). They discussed the rover, made a quick reference to the manned moon landings of the US and finished with a summary of the future plans of the chinese for the moon. The segment ended with a round of "that's cool" from all the hosts. So it's certainly not being ignored and the achievement does seem to be acknowledged for what it is, not belittled or downplayed.

  • oblig (Score:4, Funny)

    by melchoir55 ( 218842 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @09:59PM (#45700115)

    It was a soundstage on mars.

  • Mare Imbrium (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @10:37PM (#45700325)

    The lander did not land in Sinus Iridum, but in Mare Imbrium [] proper.

    I do not think this was a mistake, as they could have waited a few more orbits and made the original landing point in Sinus Iridum. For some reason, a site in Mare Imbrium was chosen. As the actual landing site is on the border between the Titanium rich and Titanium poor [] parts of Sinus Iridum, I suspect this was not an arbitrary choice, but driven by a desire to understand better the mineral resources of the Moon.

    If we are really lucky, the rover will drive the 120 km North to Montes Recti [], a mountain range to the North. (These mountains are really islands of old terrain high enough to avoid being submerged in the Mare Imbrium lava flows.) At 100 m/day, it would only take 3 years...

  • by stonebit ( 2776195 ) on Sunday December 15, 2013 @11:03PM (#45700459)
    The quality of those photos is terrible. What'd they do, send up a cheap digital camera made in chi...
    • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Monday December 16, 2013 @06:37AM (#45702093)

      Perhaps delivering high resolution images to US/ Western geeks is not their primary mission. Perhaps a few low res snapshots to keep the western media off their back (see, we really did it, put away your conspiracy theory stories) is all they felt obliged to do.

      Maybe there's a high res camera sending pictures back to their scientific research / military people and they just don't feel the need to distribute this material to the general public in other countries. The Chinese funding model might not be the same as the USA's, maybe they don't need to distribute high res holiday snaps to ensure continued funding.

      Perhaps there's no high res camera on board because the science of the mission doesn't need any more than a few low res snaps. The real work might be elsewhere. I've read a couple of articles that note that the lander is much bigger than you might expect for a rover of this size, so it might be the real mission here is to test lander technologies in preparation for sending a manned mission. It might be that the real science is around testing that platform, and the rover is just supplementary, a nice addition for extra kudos and you might as well do it while you're there.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.