28 Dec 2013

China’s Luna Mission programme 2004 - 2013

Yutu-ChangE3-1Let’s take a look back at China’s Moon programme.

China's lunar mission is divided into three stages: orbiting, landing, and return. The following is the timeline of China's Luna mission development.

1998 Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (COSTIND) begins planning the lunar mission, tackling major scientific and technological problems;

2004 January - lunar orbiter project is formally established;

February - mission is named "Project Chang'e" after a mythical Chinese goddess who flew to the moon;

2007 Oct. 24 - Chang'e-1 is successfully launched;

chang'e 1Nov. 7 - Chang'e-1 enters lunar orbit;

Nov. 26 - a clip of the voice of the probe and a Chinese song "Ode to the Motherland" are sent back from orbit. China's first picture of the lunar surface is published by Xinhua News Agency;

2008 Jan. 31 - COSTIND publishes the first picture of the lunar polar region taken by Chang'e-1;

October - the State Council, China's Cabinet, approves the Chang'e-2 mission;

Nov. 12 - based on data collected by Chang'e-1, the first lunar hologram with a resolution of 7 meters is published;

2009 March 1 - Chang'e-1 impacts the moon under control;

2010 Oct. 1 - Chang'e-2 is sent into space aboard a Long March-3C carrier rocket from southwest China's Xichang satellite launch centre;

chang'e 2Oct. 9 - Chang'e-2 enters 100-km circular lunar orbit;

Oct. 26 - Chang'e-2 enters lower, elliptical orbit; prepares to photograph Sinus Iridium;

Oct. 29 - Chang'e-2 photographs Sinus Iridium and returns to a higher orbit;

Nov. 8 - pictures of Sinus Iridium published by the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND);

2011 April 1 - Chang'e-2 completes all six engineering objectives and four scientific missions. Its design lifetime expires;

April to the end of May - Chang'e-2 surveys south and north poles of the moon, and takes high-resolution pictures of the chosen landing site for Chang'e-3;

Aug. 25 - For the first time in history, from lunar orbit a space craft enters the second Lagrange Point (L2) orbit, where gravity of the sun and Earth balance the orbital motion of the satellite;

2012 Feb. 6 - SASTIND publishes a lunar hologram with a resolution of 7 meters;

Dec. 13 - Chang'e-2 arrives in deep space 7 million km away from Earth, and surveys the Tout asteroid;

Present Chang'e-2 is 60 million km away from Earth and has become China's first man-made asteroid in the solar system. It continues flying into deeper space.

27 Dec 2013

Happy New Year everyone

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Finally finished January’s programme ‘China lands on the Moon.’ It is 40m long. It was challenging to obtain the video sequences and copyright permission. I acknowledge the help of Alan Simpson of the BBC for technical advice, Kevin Adams for his lovely music, NASA and CNTV.

This then is my contribution the BBC’s Astronomy Live Events around the country. I seem to have missed Christmas this year, all I need now is Dr Who to give me a lift in his Tardis to December 23rd….