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Chinese lunar probe ends, impacts moon

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Image Courtesy:People.com.cn

HONG KONG (BNS): China’s first lunar probe has crashed onto the moon surface on Sunday, ending its 16-month long mission. State news agency Xinhua quoted sources in the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense to report that the impact happened at 4.13 pm Beijing Time.

Chang’e-1, named after Chinese moon goddess, impacted the lunar surface after orbiting the moon thousands of times, mapping the lunar surface. Results from the impact would help Chinese scientists plan a 2012 mission to send a rover to the lunar surface.

According to Xinhua, Chang’e-1 hit the lunar surface at 1.50 degrees south latitude and 52.36 degrees east longitude. In the run up to the impact, the probe began to reduce speed at 3.36 pm Beijing time, on the orders of two observation and control stations in east China's Qingdao and northwest China's Kashi.

China has already announced a three-stage lunar probe: Chang’e-1 being the first, and the second phase in 2012 to send a rover vehicle to moon. In the third phase planned for 2017, another rover will land on moon and bring back mineral samples for scientific research.

Chang'e-1 was launched on October 24, 2007, and sent the first full map of the moon's surface back to China one month later, Xinhua reported. “The second phase of the space program aims at soft landing, and the preparation is currently in progress", Wu Weiren, chief designer of the country's lunar probe program, was quoted by Xinhua.

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