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China's lunar probe observes stars, explores Moon

BEIJING (PTI): China's lunar probe mission, which made the first soft-landing on the Moon since 1976, has collected a large amount of space observation and exploration data, authorities have said.

The mission, comprising the lander Chang'e-3 and rover Yutu, was launched in December as part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Programme.

A Moon-based optical telescope on the lander has observed lights from many celestial objects at near ultraviolet wavelengths and detected 23 stars, said a statement from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence on Jan. 18.

After analysis and processing of the data, scientists drafted an atlas of stars around the constellation Draco, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.

Probe equipment on Yutu (Jade Rabbit) is being used to explore the Moon. The probe radar has surveyed the lunar surface and collected two sets of data about the structure of soil beneath the surface within 140 meters and 10 meters respectively, it said.

A panoramic camera and infrared spectrograph have sent back images of the lunar surface. Data collected by a particle X-ray device helped scientists identify 11 types of chemical elements like magnesium, aluminium and calcium.

Data collected from observations of the plasmasphere over Earth will provide more information about the impact of solar activities, according to the statement.

These findings will help scientists understand the terrain, geological structure, material composition and soil formation of the Moon, the statement said.

China is only the third country to perform a soft-landing on the Moon.


China  Moon  Lunar Mission  Rover  

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