China Goes to the Moon, Takes a Few Pictures

China Moon Jade Rabbit

They’re about a decade (or five) too late, but China’s first moon rover, the Jade Rabbit, has made it to the moon.

The successful mission marks the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades. The 140-kilogram “Jade Rabbit” rover separated from the much larger landing vehicle early Sunday, after the unmanned Chang’e 3 space probe touched down on the moon.

China’s Jade Rabbit rover, named after the pet of Chang’e, the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology, sent back its first pictures from the moon on Sunday. The cameras produced some clear images – mainly of the lander and the rover taking pictures of each other.

Although China lags a fair bit behind the United States and Russia in terms of technology and experience, their space program is an enormous source of pride for the country.

The successful mission reflects “the new glory of China to scale the peaks in world science and technology areas,” China’s space agency, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement, adding it was committed to exploring and using space “for peaceful purposes.”

The landing marks a major step forward in Beijing’s ambitious military-run space program, making China the third country to carry out a lunar soft landing. Future plans include a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually sending a human to the moon. But the immediate next step is to rip out the American flag and plant their own, sparking an increase in NASA funding which will lead to another space race.

But space race aside, I guess it makes sense that China is so eager to explore the moon. After all, it’s easier to breathe on the moon than in Shanghai.

Via: AFP

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