The end of 2013, saw another great step in China’s space exploration program, as it landed a craft that contained a robot vehicle on the surface of the moon. The module used it’s landing thruster’s to touch down safely on the surface, it was the first soft landing achieved on the moon for nearly four decades.
The robotic rover is called ‘Yutu’ and will deployed automatically by the lander, on the vast flat plain which is called Sinus Iridum (the Bay of Rainbows). It was a proud moment for the Chinese space agency which is based mainly in Beijing. The soft landing was considered the most difficult part of the mission and it was with much relief that the staff at mission control were able to celebrate the success.
This is actually the third time a robotic rover has been deployed on the moon, but it’s by far the most sophisticated. It even includes a ground penetrating radar which will be used to gather accurate measurements of the soil and crust of the lunar surface.
The official aims of this particular space mission is to test new technologies and gather data on a variety of scientific projects. It is also thought to be focused on some mineral exploration, hopeing to find resources that could eventually be mined when the technology allows.
There is a lot of coverage of the Chinese space mission all across the web. Unfortunately due to the Chinese filters and firewalls much of it is not accessible to Chinese citizens themselves. The various fan pages can be accessed using this technology, and if you want to follow the excellent coverage on the BBC website then this video should help.