For the first time in almost forty years, an unmanned spacecraft has landed on the moon. This time, it is the Chinese behind the soft-landing, settling their Chang’e 3 probe onto lunar soil alongside similar landers from the US and Soviet Union.
Named after a lunar goddess, the Chang’e 3 carries a solar-powered buggy called “Yutu” – or “Jade Rabbit” – which will venture out across the lunar surface, carrying out geological surveys controlled by the Chinese with help from the ESA. Xinhua news reports that the Chang’e 3 landed in the Bay of Rainbows, an as-yet-unexplored area of the Moon with plenty of sunlight for buggy-power.
The Chang’e 3 landing is the first unmanned moon landing since 1976, and is part of China’s plans to expand their space-based projects, which include an experimental space laboratory, satellite system, and even a potential working space station.
Seriously, though, an “experimental space laboratory” sounds like the best office ever.
- The Space Station’s coolant system is malfunctioning
- Everyone wants to name this new planet “Gallifrey”
- Here’s what the Earth and Moon look like from the Juno spacecraft