What a magnificent day for China and its people.
The popular moon craft Chang’e 3 with its precious cargo on a 12 day mission to the moon hovered above the surface, checked the terrain with 3D sensors and landed.
Beijing control carefully gave the order to the rover Yutu to move – 30mm at first.
Then down the ramp onto the “magnificent desolation” of the Mare Imbrium surface.
Buzz Aldrin called it that in 1969 as he stepped onto the moon.
So here it is, direct from the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre and direct from the Brazilian rooftop observatory of that outstanding lunar photographer Prof Ricardo Vaz Tolentino.
The lovely little rover Yutu and a positional picture of the landings of two historic moon rovers 43 years apart.
From Xinhua, Beijing: Screen shows the photo of the Yutu moon rover taken by the camera on the Chang’e-3 moon lander during the mutual-photograph process, at the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre in Beijing, capital of China, December 15, 2013.
The moon rover and the moon lander took photos of each other Sunday night, marking the complete success of the Chang’e-3 lunar probe mission. (Xinhua)
The Yutu rover (its name means "Jade Rabbit") is named after the pet rabbit that travels with the goddess Chang’e to the moon in Chinese legends.
Chang’e 3 is China’s third lunar mission to carry the name, but the first to land on the moon. The first two Chinese lunar missions only orbited the moon.
SEA OF RAINS AND THE BAY OF RAINBOWS
Left is a photo of Sinus IRIDUM and the landing site of the Chinese lunar probe Chang’e 3.
They are two robotics explorers vehicles separated by 43 years of technology:
On 12/14/2013, 13:11:18 UT, the Chinese probe Chang’e 3 landed on lunar surface (selenographic coordinates: LAT: 44.12°N e LON: 19.51°W) and disembarked a robotic explorer vehicle (rover) called Yutu, which will be tasked to explore approximately 10 Km in Sinus IRIDUM region, for about 3 months.
However, the last rover that landed and rolled on the moon, was the Lunokhod 2 , which traveled 37 km on the floor of the crater Le Monnier.
This ancient robotic vehicle was disembarked on the lunar surface by the Soviet probe Luna 21 (Lunik 21), which landed on January 15, 1973 at 22:35:00 UT.
First, however, the Soviet spacecraft Luna 17 (Lunik 17) landed on November 17, 1970, at 03:46:50 UT, over the lavas of Mare IMBRIUM and also close to Sinus IRIDUM, when also disembarked a rover on the surface of the moon.
This first explorer on wheels was known as Lunokhod 1.
The two rovers (Lunokhod 1 and Yutu) were disembarked about 400 km in distance between the two points of Moon landing (Lunokhod 1 at west of Sinus IRIDUM and Yutu at east of Sinus IRIDUM) and are separated by 43 years of technology!
So if you thought that the era of robotics explorers vehicles began in recent years on Mars, with Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity, you’re wrong.
It all started on the moon in the 1970s.
Congratulations to the Aerospace Centre of Beijing for the safe landing. Congratulations also to Prof Vaz Tolentino for the classic photograph of the Mare Imbrium ( Sea of Rains) and the Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows) region.