China, NASA share data in lu­nar mis­sion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By ZHAO LEI [email protected]­ JIN LIWANG / XINHUA

Space au­thor­i­ties in China and the United States have been dis­cussing co­op­er­a­tion in lu­nar and deep-space ex­plo­ration since the sec­ond half of last year, and the two sides ex­changed in­for­ma­tion be­fore the launch of the Chang’e 4 mis­sion to the far side of the moon, the China Na­tional Space Ad­min­is­tra­tion said.

On Thursday af­ter­noon the ad­min­is­tra­tion said that be­fore the start of Chang’e 4 mis­sion in De­cem­ber, Chi­nese sci­en­tists in­volved in the pro­gram and their coun­ter­parts from NASA’s Lu­nar Re­con­nais­sance Or­biter team had “close com­mu­ni­ca­tion” to dis­cuss the use of the LRO satel­lite to ob­serve the land­ing of Chang’e 4 for sci­en­tific pur­poses.

As a re­sult, the US pro­vided or­bital data of the LRO to the Chi­nese team, while the Chi­nese side in­formed the US team about the pre­set site and time of the Chi­nese lu­nar probe’s land­ing. Both sides ex­pected the col­lab­o­ra­tion would bear sci­en­tific fruit, the Chi­nese agency said.

Ac­cord­ing to pub­lic in­for­ma­tion, the ex­change was the first co­op­er­a­tion, though at a rudi­men­tary level, be­tween Chi­nese and US space pro­grams since 2011, when a US fed­eral law was made to pro­hibit NASA from bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion with China.

A Chi­nese in­sider who didn’t want to be named told China Daily that the com­mu­ni­ca­tion rep­re­sented im­por­tant progress be­tween the two. He said the two coun­tries can also join hands in mak­ing use of Chang’e 4’s sci­en­tific find­ings, such as those gen­er­ated by the low fre­quency spec­trom­e­ter car­ried by the probe’s lan­der, to boost lu­nar re­search.

In an­other devel­op­ment, the CNSA said on Thursday that two for­eign-made sci­en­tific instruments mounted on the Chang’e 4 — a neu­tron dosime­ter de­vel­oped by Kiel Univer­sity in Ger­many and an en­er­getic neu­tral atom an­a­lyzer pro­vided by the Swedish In­sti­tute of Space Physics — have been ac­ti­vated for test­ing.

The Chang’e 4 space­craft rode into space atop a Long March 3B rocket in early De­cem­ber at the Xichang Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in Sichuan prov­ince. It was the coun­try’s fourth lu­nar ex­pe­di­tion and mankind’s first sur­face ob­ser­va­tion of the moon’s far side, which never faces Earth.

The ro­botic probe made a soft land­ing on the lu­nar sur­face on Jan 3 and then re­leased a lu­nar rover, the sev­enth rover on the moon and also the first to leave tracks on the far side, to roam and sur­vey the land­ing site in the South Pole-Aitken Basin re­gion of the moon, one of the largest and deep­est known basins in the so­lar sys­tem.

Launched in June 2009, the LRO is a NASA ro­botic space­craft or­bit­ing the moon to gather var­i­ous kinds of sci­en­tific data.

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