UK & World News

  • 21 December 2013, 12:39

China's Rover Sends Back Lunar Panorama Image

China has released a panoramic picture of its Jade Rabbit rover's landing area on the moon, one week after the country's first probe landed without a hitch.

The moon buggy, nicknamed "Jade Rabbit", rolled onto the surface from an unmanned spacecraft.

Chinese officials said the rover, officially namedChang'e 3, has started its scientific operation in search of natural resources.

The chief designer of the Chang'e 3 probing system, Liu Enhai, speaking on China's state television CCTV, said: "The entire picture was pieced together with 60 photos taken three times from three angles: zero degrees, 15 degrees down from horizon and 30 degrees.

"The purpose of shooting from three angles is to (capture) from one side to the other in order to see farther."

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

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

China said last week that it aims to launch the next generation of unmanned moon probe in 2017 with the key aim of collecting and bringing back lunar samples.

Advancing China's space programme has been a priority for the leadership, with President Xi Jinping calling for China to establish itself as a space power.

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