Before today, there were two nations that had managed to land a craft on the surface of the moon and beam back data and pictures. The United States and the Soviet Union. Both landed a number of unmanned probes. The US also sent twelve manned missions to the lunar surface. The Soviet Union didn’t send any humans but did send some sophisticated unmanned missions including two remote controlled rovers.
The last transmission from the moons surface was made by a Soviet probe in 1976. While there have been other craft to orbit the moon or crash into it, this was the last surface probe.
Now a third nation has landed a probe on the moon and for the first time in thirty years the surface of the moon is being beamed back.
China’s first moon rover lands — and rolls onto lunar surface
BEIJING — China on Saturday successfully carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades, state media said. Hours later, video footage showed the probe’s rover rolling onto the lunar surface.
The achievement marked the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.
The unmanned Chang’e 3 lander, named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon, touched down on Earth’s nearest neighbor following a 12-minute landing process.
The probe carried a six-wheeled moon rover called Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit,” the goddess’ pet in the myth. Within hours of its landing on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon, the rover separated from the Chang’e lander to embark on a three-month scientific exploration.
As an American, I’m a bit saddened to see someone else sending payloads to the moon while our own once-great space program seems to be getting nowhere fast. Still, it’s good to see the the moon is once again being visited by humankind. Though it might not be the most difficult planetary body to get to nor the one with the greatest scientific discoveries waiting, there is something about the familiarity and closeness of the moon that seems to beacon.
I hope this will be the start of a new era of lunar exploration missions by numerous countries.
And here’s the first picture…
This entry was posted on Saturday, December 14th, 2013 at 4:50 pm and is filed under Good Science, Space. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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