UK & World News

  • 15 December 2013, 6:27

China's Rover 'Jade Rabbit' Explores Moon

China's Jade Rabbit rover has driven out of its space craft to begin exploring the Moon's surface.

The nation's first lunar rover has started its three-month mission to explore the moon in search of natural resources.

China's state TV channel showed live footage of the Jade Rabbit rover driving down a ramp from its lander and onto the Moon's surface.

On Saturday, China became the third nation to send a rover to the moon in an operation watched by people all over the world.

It is the first "soft landing" of a probe there for 37 years following the US and former Soviet Union.

A soft landing does not damage the craft and the equipment it takes.

Beijing has now taken a big step towards becoming a global player in space.

Scientists burst into applause as a computer-generated image representing the Chang'e 3 spacecraft carrying the solar-powered robot was seen touching down on the Moon's surface via screens in Beijing.

The craft's camera broadcast images of the surface before it reportedly came down in the Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows.

It had hovered for several minutes seeking an appropriate place to land.

In 2007, China put another lunar probe in orbit around the Moon, which then carried out a controlled crash on to its surface.

The rover is being remotely controlled by Chinese control centres with support from tracking and transmission stations operated by the European Space Agency.

It was launched into space onboard a rocket on December 1 from southern China.

The name Jade Rabbit or "Yutu" was chosen in an online poll of 3.4 million voters indicating just how important this mission is to the Chinese public.

It is the next step in China's ambitious plans to land astronauts on the surface by around 2025.

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