Posts Tagged ‘Moon’

Chang’e 3′s Jade Bunny begins gambolling on the moon

December 15, 2013

Chang’e 3 landed on the moon on Saturday and her Jade Bunny has now started gambolling on the moon.

China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Picture was taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. (Xinhua/Li Xin)

Xinhua:China’s first moon rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, separated from the lander early on Sunday, several hours after the Chang’e-3 probe soft-landed on the lunar surface.

The 140 kg six-wheeled rover touched the lunar surface at 4:35 a.m., leaving deep trace on the loose lunar soil. The process was recorded by the camera on the lander and the images were sent to the earth, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

After the separation, the rover and lander will take photos of each other and start their own scientific explorations.

Engineers made final checks of the environment of the landing site, the situation of the probe and the solar incidence angle late night on Saturday and sent signals of separation to Chang’e-3.

Yutu, atop the probe, extended its solar panel and started to drive slowly to the transfer mechanism at 3:10.

The transfer mechanism unlocked at 4:06 with one side reaching the moon’s surface, allowing the rover to descend to the surface following a ladder mechanism.

Chang’e-3 landed on the moon’s Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, at 9:11 p.m. Saturday, making China the third country in the world to carry out such a rover mission after the United States and former Soviet Union. 

In ancient Chinese mythology, Yutu was the white pet rabbit of the lunar goddess Chang’e. The name for the rover was selected following an online poll that collected several million votes from people around the world. 

The rover, 1.5 meters long with its two wings folded, 1 m in width and 1.1 m in height, is a highly efficient robot controlled by the command center from the earth. It will face challenges including temperature differences of more than 300 degrees Celsius on the moon. 

Yutu will survey the moon’s geological structure and surface substances and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will conduct in-situ exploration at the landing site for one year.


Chinese Jade Bunny took off for the moon tonight

December 1, 2013

UPDATE!! 1st December 2013 2030 GMT

Xinhua: The probe’s carrier, an enhanced Long March-3B rocket, blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China at 1:30 a.m. Chang’e-3 is expected to land on the moon in mid-December to become China’s first spacecraft to soft land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.

It is also the first moon lander launched in the 21st century. The probe entered the earth-moon transfer orbit as scheduled, with a perigee of 200 kilometers and apogee of 380,000 kilometers. “The probe has already entered the designated orbit,” said Zhang Zhenzhong, director of the launch center in Xichang. “I now announce the launch was successful.”


Various Xinhua reports

China will launch the Chang’e-3 lunar probe to the moon at 1:30 a.m. Monday from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, The Chang’e-3 programme encompasses a lander and a moon rover called “Yutu” (Jade Rabbit). The Chang’e-3 mission is the second phase of China’s lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth. It follows the success of the Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010.

Artist's conception of the Chinese moon rover, called Yutu. Credit: CNSA

Artist’s conception of the Chinese moon rover, called Yutu. Credit: CNSA

The probe will be launched to orbit aboard an enhanced Long March-3B carrier which is more than three meters in diameter and 56.4 meters high. The mission will be the 25th launch of the Long March-3B, which is the most powerful launch vehicle in the Long March fleet.

After entering lunar orbit, Chang’e-3 will go through six stages of deceleration to descend from 15 km above to the lunar surface. The soft-landing processes of the U.S. and former Soviet Union’s unmanned spacecraft had no capacity to hover or avoid obstacles. Chang’e-3, on the other hand, can accurately survey landforms at the landing site and identify the safest spots on which to land.

In order to land quickly, the probe is equipped with high-precision, fast-response sensors to analyze its motion and surroundings. The variable thrust engine (completely designed and made by Chinese scientists) can generate up to 7,500 newtons of thrust.

But the real story I like of Chang’e and her Hou Yi and the reincarnation of Hou Yi as a Jade Bunny is this one from Over A Cuppa Tea. A Jade Bunny is much more evocative than a Jade Rabbit. Chang Er is perhaps a better phonetic rendition of Chang’e.

Once upon a time, there live two immortals in the Heaven, they are Hou Yi and Chang Er. Hou yi and Chang Er were lovers who goes through great obstacle before their love is approved by the Heaven.

The Heaven was ruled by the Jade Emperor and his Empress. One day, ten sons of Jade emperor accidentally transformed into the sun, and revolves around the earth playfully, causing great drought and suffering to the mortals below.

Worried and concern for the mortals, the Jade emperor summons the imperial archer, Hou Yi to help him solve the problem. Hou Yi then went to Earth and shot down nine of the Jade Emperor’s sons. The emperor had thought that Hou Yi would not harm any of his sons. Now that his sons are dead, the emperor was very furious. In anger, the emperor took away Hou Yi and his wife’s immortality and condemn them to live on Earth forever.

Chang*e and her jade bunny on the moon

Chang Er was grief stricken with her loss of immortality. Hou Yi could not bear to see his saddened wife, and so, he decided to steal the immortality pill from the heavenly medicine manufacturer so that both of their immortality could be restored. He manage to steal the pill from heaven, and brought it to Chang Er. He told her that they only need to take half of the pills to regain immortality.

In the meantime, the Jade Emperor found out about the stolen immortality pill, and command an imperial guard to retrieve the pills and catch both Hou Yi and Chang Er so that he could punish them for their misdeed.

And so, the imperial guard went down to earth in pursuit of the couple and the pill of immortality. But the guard himself was tempted by the idea of immortality. So he waited until Hou Yi is not at home, and attacked Chang Er who is defenseless at home. He demanded for the pill but Chang Er refused to hand it to him. Hou Yi, who seems to forget his arrows went back home to get it and discovered that his wife is in danger. He fought the imperial guard courageously.

Unfortunately, Hou Yi is an archer, not a fighter. He was stabbed right in his heart in front of Chang Er. Chang Er was grief stricken, and wishes to die with her husband too. However, Hou Yi’s dying wish was for Chang Er to regain her immortality and live happily for all eternity.

So, Chang Er took out the pill from her sleeves and swallowed the whole pill so that the guard would not be able to get it and obtain immortality. Right after swallowing the pill, Chang Er started to float towards the sky, and after flying for some time, she landed on the moon. She cried and grieve for her husband’s death.

Her cries was heard by a group of Jade Bunnies that lives on the moon. They went to her and listened to her story. These Jade Bunnies were captivated by Chang Er’s beauty and kindness towards them, so they built a palace for her to stay, knowing that she could never return to Heaven or Earth. They hailed her as their goddess and pledge allegiance to her. These bunnies can be seen pounding on the face of the moon on some cooking utensil.

It is believed that these Jade Bunnies are trying to make resurrection pills so that they could revive their Goddess’s love. It’s said that the resurrection pills is shaped like a mooncake. But it’s not dictate anywhere on whether Hou Yi was revived or not, but in many folklore, it’s told that Chang Er would bestow blessing of love and happiness to lovers who pray hard and sincere enough to the moon during mid-autumn.

According to my husband, however, there’s only one Jade Bunny on the moon, and it’s actually the reincarnation of Chang Er’s husband. He told me that the Jade Empress took pity on the couple, and so reincarnate Hou Yi as a Jade Bunny so that Chang Er will not be lonely on the moon. That explains why Chang Er can always be seen with a bunny everywhere she goes on the moon.

The lunar nodal cycle and its effects on climate

July 27, 2013

A paper has just been published in the International Journal of Climatology showing that the lunar nodal cycle influences “the low-frequency summer rainfall variability over the plains to the east of subtropical Andes, in South America, through long-term sea surface temperature (SST) variations induced by the nodal amplitude of diurnal tides over southwestern South Atlantic (SWSA).”

Eduardo Andres Agosta, The 18.6-year nodal tidal cycle and the bi-decadal precipitation oscillation over the plains to the east of subtropical Andes, South America, International J of Climatology, DOI: 10.1002/joc.3787

Abstract: This work shows statistical evidence for lunar nodal cycle influence on the low-frequency summer rainfall variability over the plains to the east of subtropical Andes, in South America, through long-term sea surface temperature (SST) variations induced by the nodal amplitude of diurnal tides over southwestern South Atlantic (SWSA). In years of strong (weak) diurnal tides, tide-induced diapycnal mixing makes SST cooler (warmer) together with low (high) air pressures in the surroundings of the Malvinas/Falklands Islands in the SWSA, possibly through mean tropospheric baroclinicity variations. As the low-level tropospheric circulation anomalies directly affect the interannual summer rainfall variability, such an influence can be extended to the bi-decadal variability present in the summer rainfall owing to the nodal modulation effect observed in the tropospheric circulation. The identification of the nodal periodicity in the summer rainfall variability is statistically robust.

The lunar nodal cycle is not something that is very well known but it is another celestial cycle which is clearly not to be ignored. Naturally the IPCC takes no notice of solar cycles, planetary cycles or lunar cycles and all these are lumped into what could be considered “natural variability”.

(Sourced from Wikipedia)

The lunar orbit is inclined by about 5 degrees on the ecliptic. The moon  therefore can lie up to about 5 degrees north or south of the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the plane of the apparent path of the Sun on the celestial sphere, and is coplanar with both the orbit of the Earth around the Sun and the apparent orbit of the Sun around the Earth.

File:Lunar eclipse diagram-en.svg

Lunar eclipse orbital diagram: wikipedia

The lunar nodes precess around the ecliptic, completing a revolution (called a draconitic or nodical period, the period of nutation) in 6793.5 days or 18.5996 years.

The effects of the 18.6 year lunar nodal cycle on climate on tides and geological sediments and on weather and climate have long been of interest (though not apparently for the IPCC).

Nanocycles Method is the English translation of the title of a book published in Russian by Professor of Geology S Afanasiev of Moscow University in 1991,ISBN 5–7045–0109–0.

From “Nanocycles Method” by S Afanasiev, 1991

The lunar node cycle, which is presently 18.6 years, affects the rainfall on a 9.3 year cycle and this shows up as varying thickness layers of deposits, or varves, in geological formations. 

However the moon’s orbit is gradually getting larger over time and so its period is slowing down. The rate of movement of the nodes is also decelerating and Prof Afanasiev has determined the accurate nodal cycle period for the whole of the last 600 million years.

The cycle of the lunar node is important in affecting the weather because it plays a part in determining tides in the atmosphere, oceans and solid body of the earth. The atmospheric tides affect rainfall which in turn affects river flows and hence the deposition of geological varves, or annual deposits in geological layers. ….. 

At the present time, with a nodal cycle of 9.3 years, successive nodal cycles begin 0.3 years later in the seasons each cycle. Therefore after 3 or 4 cycles the nodal cycle start return to the same time of year again. The average period of the cycle when the nodal cycle comes at the same time of year is 9.3/0.3 or 31 years. Specific occurrences of nearly the same season, within 0.1 year, will occur after 28, 65 and 93 years and so on. 

…. Because the lunar nodal cycle period has changed from 9.147 years to 9.298 years in the last 1.0 million years, the secondary cycle has varied from 62.12 years to 31.21 years. If this cycle can be measured in a deposit to an accuracy of 1 year then it allows the dating of the deposit to an accuracy of +/-0.03 million years.

A small selection of papers dealing with the effects of the 18.6 year lunar nodal cycle is given below:

Transylvanian Hypothesis lives again — Now lunar cycles found to affect sleep

July 26, 2013

Moon sickness is becoming all the rage. Hot on the heels of the report that cardiac surgery results are affected by the phases of the moon comes this study showing that lunar cycles do – in fact – also affect sleep. Our bodies it seems also dance to a lunar rythm and maybe it is time to revive the Transylvanian Hypothesis and revisit all the myths and legends about the effects of the moon (werewolves, induced lunacy, epileptic fits and even lunar effects on general practice consultancy rates!)

A new paper in Current Biology

Christian Cajochen, Songül Altanay-Ekici, Mirjam Münch, Sylvia Frey, Vera Knoblauch, Anna Wirz-Justice. Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep. Current Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.06.029

from planetsforkids


Many people complain about poor sleep around the full moon, and now a report appearing in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, on July 25 offers some of the first convincing scientific evidence to suggest that this really is true. The findings add to evidence that humans—despite the comforts of our civilized world—still respond to the geophysical rhythms of the moon, driven by a circalunar clock.

“The lunar cycle seems to influence human sleep, even when one does not ‘see’ the moon and is not aware of the actual moon phase,” says Christian Cajochen of the Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel.

In the new study, the researchers studied 33 volunteers in two age groups in the lab while they slept. Their brain patterns were monitored while sleeping, along with eye movements and hormone secretions.

The data show that around the full moon, brain activity related to deep sleep dropped by 30 percent. People also took five minutes longer to fall asleep, and they slept for twenty minutes less time overall. Study participants felt as though their sleep was poorer when the moon was full, and they showed diminished levels of melatonin, a hormone known to regulate sleep and wake cycles.

“This is the first reliable evidence that a lunar rhythm can modulate sleep structure in humans when measured under the highly controlled conditions of a circadian laboratory study protocol without time cues,” the researchers say.

Cajochen adds that this circalunar rhythm might be a relic from a past in which the moon could have synchronized human behaviors for reproductive or other purposes, much as it does in other animals. Today, the moon’s hold over us is usually masked by the influence of electrical lighting and other aspects of modern life.

The researchers say it would be interesting to look more deeply into the anatomical location of the circalunar clock and its molecular and neuronal underpinnings. And, they say, it could turn out that the moon has power over other aspects of our behavior as well, such as our cognitive performance and our moods.


Lunatic science? Cardiac surgery gives better results during a waning full moon!

July 17, 2013

It is not the 1st of April so presumably this “lunatic science” about the effects of a waning full moon on improved results after surgery  - taking “lunatic” in its proper sense of moon-sick  - is not just fantasy!

The message is clear. Schedule any cardiac surgery you may need during a waning full moon! But it does go against previous “lunatic belief” expressed by a UK politician as recently as 2009. Tredinnick, a Conservative MP,  is a supporter of astrology especially the use of it in medical practice!

 In October 2009, British politician David Tredinnick asserted that during a full moon “[s]urgeons will not operate because blood clotting is not effective and the police have to put more people on the street.”.

The belief that there is correlation between specific stages of the Earth’s lunar cycle and behavior in animals including human beings that cannot simply be explained by variation in light levels. There is no scientific reason to expect this to be the case and, in spite of numerous studies, no significant lunar effect on human behaviour has been established. Scholars debunking the effect sometimes refer to it as the Transylvanian hypothesis or the Transylvanian effect to emphasise its fanciful nature – Wikipedia

One wonders of course whether the effects of the full moon are affecting the surgeons or the patients.

This “study” – not funded- from the Rhode Island Hospital has just been published:

J. H. Shuhaiber, J. L. Fava, T. Shin, N. Dobrilovic, A. Ehsan, A. Bert, F. Sellke. The influence of seasons and lunar cycle on hospital outcomes following ascending aortic dissection repairInteractive CardioVascular and Thoracic Surgery, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/icvts/ivt299

Franke Sellke

Franke Sellke


Waning and full moon cycles impact length of stay, mortality

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – If you need cardiac surgery in the future, aortic dissection in particular, reach for the moon. Or at least try to schedule your surgery around its cycle. According to a study at Rhode Island Hospital, acute aortic dissection (AAD) repair performed in the waning full moon appears to reduce the odds of death, and a full moon was associated with shorter length of stay (LOS). The study is published online in advance of print in the journal Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.

The purpose of the study was to assess the effect of natural time variations of both the season and the lunar cycle phase on hospital survival and length of stay (number of days a patient is in the hospital) following acute aortic dissection repair.


Chang’e 2 is now “liberated” from earth and lunar gravity

September 11, 2011

China’s lunar probe Chang’e 2 completed its mission orbiting the moon three months ago and has now reached Lagrange (liberation) Point L2.

It has now reached a point in space where neither the moon nor the earth’s gravity will affect the probe. This point is called L2. It’s the farthest a Chinese spacecraft has ever been.

Chang’e 2′s primary mission was to orbit the moon at only 100 kilometers from the surface, taking high resolution photos. After completing this, scientists decided that there was enough fuel to continue with the second part of the mission. But sending the probe from the moon was unprecedented. Similar missions has previously left directly from Earth, so keeping the satellite on course was a technological challenge.

Zhou Jianliang, Deputy Chief Designer, Measure & Control System of Chang’e 2, said, “The satellite faced various disruptions on its journey, which could have led it off course. We had planned four readjustments to keep it on track. But we only need(ed) to do it once since the first adjustment proved so accurate.”

China’s ambitious three-stage moon mission is steadily advancing. The next phase will be the launch of Chang’e-3 in 2013. The probe’s mission is to land on the moon together with a moon rover. In the third phase, the rover should land on the moon and return to Earth with lunar soil and stones for scientists to study. The Chang’e program was named after the legendary Chinese goddess who flew to the moon. With the progress in technology and experience from the Chang’e mission, sending a Chinese astronaut to the moon is now clearly feasible.

On Lagrange Points:

The Italian-French mathematician Joseph-Louis Lagrange discovered five special points in the vicinity of two orbiting masses where a third, smaller mass can orbit at a fixed distance from the larger masses. More precisely, the Lagrange Points mark positions where the gravitational pull of the two large masses precisely equals the centripetal force required to rotate with them. Those with a mathematical flair can follow this link to a derivation of Lagrange’s result (168K PDF file, 8 pages).

Of the five Lagrange points, three are unstable and two are stable. The unstable Lagrange points – labeled L1, L2 and L3 – lie along the line connecting the two large masses. The stable Lagrange points – labeled L4 and L5 – form the apex of two equilateral triangles that have the large masses at their vertices.

Lagrange Points

Lagrange Points of the Earth-Sun system (not drawn to scale!): NASA

 The easiest way to see how Lagrange made his discovery is to adopt a frame of reference that rotates with the system. The forces exerted on a body at rest in this frame can be derived from an effective potential in much the same way that wind speeds can be inferred from a weather map. The forces are strongest when the contours of the effective potential are closest together and weakest when the contours are far apart. In the contour plot below we see that L4 and L5 correspond to hilltops and L1, L2 and L3 correspond to saddles (i.e. points where the potential is curving up in one direction and down in the other).

Effective Potential

A contour plot of the effective potential (not drawn to scale!): NASA

Lunar activity: Chang’e-2 starts mission and Nasa revives 2 satellites

October 29, 2010

Xinhua reports

Scientists successfully activated four attitude control engines on Chang’e-2 and sent the satellite into the orbit with a perilune of just 15 kilometer above the moon, according to a flight control official in Beijing. It will photograph the Bay of Rainbows region with its CCD cameras from Wednesday, according to the center.

NASA has revived 2 satellites that were dying and sent them to the moon creating the ARTEMIS mission:

A pair of NASA spacecraft that were supposed to be dead a year ago are instead flying to the Moon for a breakthrough mission in lunar orbit. “Their real names are THEMIS P1 and P2, but I call them ‘dead spacecraft walking,’” says Vassilis Angelopoulos of UCLA, principal investigator of the THEMIS mission. “Not so long ago, we thought they were goners. Now they are beginning a whole new adventure.”

The story begins in 2007 when NASA launched a fleet of five spacecraft into Earth’s magnetosphere to study the physics of geomagnetic storms. Collectively, they were called THEMIS, short for “Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms.” P1 and P2 were the outermost members of the quintet. Working together, the probes quickly discovered a cornucopia of previously unknown phenomena such as colliding aurorasmagnetic spacequakes, and plasma bullets shooting up and down Earth’s magnetic tail. These findings allowed researchers to solve several longstanding mysteries of the Northern Lights.

The mission was going splendidly, except for one thing: Occasionally, P1 and P2 would pass through the shadow of Earth. The solar powered spacecraft were designed to go without sunlight for as much as three hours at a time, so a small amount of shadowing was no problem. But as the mission wore on, their orbits evolved and by 2009 the pair was spending as much as 8 hours a day in the dark. “The two spacecraft were running out of power and freezing to death,” says Angelopoulos. “We had to do something to save them.”

Because the mission had gone so well, the spacecraft still had an ample supply of fuel–enough to go to the Moon. “We could do some great science from lunar orbit,” he says. NASA approved the trip and in late 2009, P1 and P2 headed away from the shadows of Earth.

With a new destination, the mission needed a new name. The team selected ARTEMIS, the Greek goddess of the Moon. It also stands for “Acceleration, Reconnection, Turbulence and Electrodynamics of the Moon’s Interaction with the Sun.”

The first big events of the ARTEMIS mission are underway now. On August 25, 2010, ARTEMIS-P1 reached the L2 Lagrange point on the far side of the Moon. Following close behind, ARTEMIS-P2 entered the opposite L1 Lagrange point on Oct. 22nd. Lagrange points are places where the gravity of Earth and Moon balance, creating a sort of gravitational parking spot for spacecraft.


Artemis (Lagrange Points, 550px)

The ARTEMIS spacecraft are currently located at the L1 and L2 Earth-Moon Lagrange points: NASA


Lunar crater “Cabeus” contains more water than the Sahara

October 22, 2010

The New York Times reports on the latest results from the $79 million Lcross mission. Last October, as it neared impact, the Lcross spacecraft released the empty second stage and slowed down slightly so that it could watch the stage’s 5,600-mile-per-hour crash into a 60-mile-wide, 2-mile-deep crater named Cabeus.


Debris ejected from the Cabeus lunar crater about 20 seconds after the Lcross impact: image Science / AAAS


A series of articles reporting the Lcross results appear in Friday’s issue of the journal Science.

Last November, the team reported that the impact had kicked up at least 26 gallons of water, confirming suspicions of ice in the craters. The new results increase the water estimate to about 40 gallons, and by estimating by amount of dirt excavated by the impact, calculated the concentration of water for the first time. The Sahara sands are 2 to 5 percent water, and the water is tightly bound to the minerals. In the lunar crater, which lies in perpetual darkness, the water is in the form of almost pure ice grains mixed in with the rest of the soil, and is easy to extract. The ice is about 5.6 percent of the mixture, and possibly as high as 8.5 percent of it, Dr. Colaprete principal investigator of NASA’s Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite —  Lcross - said.

In lunar terms, that is an oasis, surprisingly wet for a place that had long been thought by many planetary scientists to be utterly dry. If astronauts were to visit this crater, they might be able to use eight wheelbarrows of soil to melt 10 to 13 gallons of water. The water, if purified, could be used for drinking, or broken apart into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel — to get home or travel to Mars.

Also surprising was the cornucopia of other elements and molecules that Lcross scooped out of the Cabeus crater, near the Moon’s south pole. Lying in perpetual darkness, the bottom of Cabeus, at minus 370 degrees Fahrenheit, is among the coldest places in the solar system and acts as a “cold trap,” collecting a history of impacts and debris over perhaps a couple of billion years.

“This is quite a reservoir of our cosmic climate,” said Peter H. Schultz, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University and lead author of one of the Science papers. “It reflects things that hit the Moon.”

By analyzing the spectrum of infrared light reflected off the debris plume, Dr. Schultz and his colleagues identified elements like sodium and silver.

Flight accuracy gives Chang’e-2 new options

October 14, 2010


Chang'e flies to the moon.

Chang'e flies to the moon: Image via Wikipedia


After requiring only one course correction en route to the moon the fuel left on board Chang’e-2 keeps open all its future options after it completes its 6 month mission. Since Chang’e-1 was already crashed intentionally onto the moon, a return to earth or a flight into outer space are more likely than another descent to the moon’s surface. If the instruments remain in working order a continued flight past other targets in space could be more rewarding than a tame return to Earth.

Xinhua reports:

Chang’e-2 was carried into lunar orbit by a rocket, and only corrected once during the transfer from earth orbit to lunar orbit, so a large amount of fuel will be left after its mission, Zhou Jianliang, the vice chief-designer of BACC, said.

It is s expected to have enough fuel to fly back to earth, the vice chief-designer of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) said Tuesday.

Zhou said there are three possible “fates” for Chang’e-2 after it finishes its six-month mission: landing on the moon; flying to outer space; or returning to earth. The fate of Chang’e-2 will be decided according to its condition when the mission is complete.

The Long March-3C carrier rocket took Chang’e-2 into space from southwest China on Oct. 1. The probe completed its final braking on Oct. 9 and is now orbiting the moon at a 100 km-high orbit.

Chang’e-2 starts transmitting data from lunar orbit

October 8, 2010


Chang'e-2 lunar probe: Credit: CNSA


Chang’e-2 remains on track and the scond orbit correction planned for Sunday may not be necessary.

From the Beijing Review:

All scientific exploration equipment has begun operation on China’s new lunar probe,Chang’e-2. The instruments that collect information about the space environment between the Earth and the Moon have sent back their first batch of data. The ground control center received the first readings from Chang’e-2 early Tuesday morning. The equipment on board detects a wide array of information such as gamma radiation levels.

The control center has confirmed that all instruments are working correctly.

The center announced that the second correction of Chang’e-2‘s orbit has been cancelled, as data proves the satellite is travelling strictly to plan following the first correction.

Experts said the satellite might change its orbit slightly due to the influence of the atmosphere and cosmic environment. Timely correction is therefore needed to prevent Chang’e-2 from deviating from its designed orbit.

The probe went through its first trajectory correction 17 hours after its successful launch. According to the original plan, the second correction would have been on Sunday. The control center is now watching closely for the timing of its next orbit correction. It’s the first time a Chinese lunar probe has directly entered an Earth-Moon transfer orbit without orbiting the Earth first.

Chang’e-2 satellite was launched just before 7 p.m. on October 1, inaugurating China’s second phase of a three-step moon mission, which will eventually culminate in a soft landing on the Moon.

From Spaceflight Now:

Chang’e 2 will map candidate landing sites for the next mission in China’s lunar program, which targets a robotic touchdown on the moon after launch in 2013. Another project in China’s long-term plans is a vehicle to return soil and rock from the moon back to Earth.

After its $134 million baseline mission at the moon is finished, Xinhua reports Chang’e 2 could enter an extended phase.

Officials are considering three scenarios for Chang’e 2′s overtime, including sending the spacecraft away from the moon and into deep space, giving Chinese engineers practice in operations further from Earth. The satellite’s propellant could also return Chang’e 2 to Earth orbit, according to Huang Jiangchuan, a chief designer quoted in Xinhua.

Chang’e 2 could also continue circling the moon, relaying more science data before attempting a landing or impact on the surface, officials said.

Chang’e 1 was deliberately crashed into the moon at the end of its mission in March 2009.


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