Chang’e flew to the moon
China successfully launched the Chang’e-3 lunar probe from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province on Dec 2, which is another achievement in its moon mission. Chang’e-3 is China’s first lunar rover and will be its first spacecraft to soft-land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.
Chang’e-3 comprises a lander and a moon rover named Yutu, or Jade Rabbit. The moon rover is tasked with surveying the moon’s surface and geological structure, and looking for natural resources. It will send back 3D images, measure infrared spectrums and analyze the lunar soil.
China’s lunar mission is divided into three stages — orbiting, landing, and returning to Earth. Chang’e-3 is part of the second phase of China’s lunar program following the success of the Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010. China is looking to complete the third step of its lunar program in 2017, when it will hopefully land another probe on the moon, release a moon rover and bring back the probe to Earth.
The Chinese people have always been fascinated by the moon. They have turned that fascination into beautiful imagination seen in folk tales and classical literature. Chang’e is the moon goddess who swallowed immortality pills alone and flew from the Earth to the moon, leaving her husband Hou Yi behind. On the moon, she only had Yutu for company in the Grand Chill Palace. The launch of the lunar probe named after the goddess symbolizes the journey of Chang’e to the moon and her transformation into a light fairy.