China Lands on the Moon

12.16.13- On Saturday China became the third country in the world to perform a soft unmanned landing on the moon. The Chang’e 3 lander set down on a region of the moon called the Sinus Iridum (Latin for “Bay of Rainbows”). This is the first lunar soft landing since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 in 1976, 37 years ago.

The Chang’e 3 is equipped with instruments to observe both the Earth and many other celestial objects along with the Yutu (Mandarin for Jade Rabbit) rover that successfully detached from the lander shortly after touchdown to begin exploring the lunar surface. The six wheeled solar powered rover is outfitted with ground penetrating sensors that may be used to find valuable resources beneath the surface. Yutu is designed to hibernate during the 14 day lunar night to avoid running out of electricity. It will also have to contend with the plummeting temperatures that come with the 2 week darkness. Yutu is designed to survive three of these freezing nights and the Chang’e lander is supposed to serve for 12 months.

This is only the latest of three Chang’e missions and the first to perform a soft landing. Its search for valuable materials beneath the surface may be a precursor to lunar mining operations in the future. While habitation on the moon is difficult it may be a source of minerals and other resources just waiting to be found. for more information visit