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Sub-anchor: Yutu Rover will face harsh environment on moon

11-27-2013 07:51 BJT Special Report: Chang’e-3 Lunar Probe |

For the latest on China's moon probe we're joined in the studio by Ai Yang. Hi Ai Yang.

Q1. So this is the first time China will be carrying out a soft space landing. Tell us what we can expect and what challenges the mission faces?

Ai: So far, only the United States and the former Soviet Union have carried out soft space landings. So if China succeeds in December, it will become the third country in history to master the technology. Other countries, like India and Japan and the EU, have already carried out hard landings on the moon. These landings are like conducting a crash landing, where the impact will end the orbiter’s life. Meanwhile, soft landings are more demanding, because they require precise control of the orbiter’s landing speed to avoid crashing onto the surface. Parachutes will not work of course as there’s no atmosphere on the moon. So in order to achieve a soft landing, the rover will have to rely on its boosters at the bottom. We’ve been told that this time more than 80 percent of the technology and products used by the Chang’e 3 mission are new, so it will be both exciting and nerve racking when the mission kicks off. And also after the successful landing, there’re still a lot more tests awaiting the rover Yutu during its three months on the moon. For example, it must be able to stand extreme cold conditions. The temperature on the moon can drop below minus 140 degrees Celsius at night, so the rover not only has to be able to withstand the cold, but also keep functioning under the harsh environment.

Q2. Tell us more about how the rover Yutu is made up.

Ai: According to media reports, the rover has two wings, stands on six wheels, and weighs 140 kilograms. It is powered by solar energy. It will arrive in lunar orbit on board a lander and this process will likely take 4 or 5 days. And then after another 4 or 5 days orbiting the moon, Yutu will then choose the best landing site and gently touch down on the moon’s surface, using optical and microwave sensors to avoid rocks and craters. The rover carries numerous detectors, cameras, and radar devices, so it can explore up to 100 meters beneath the moon’s surface. Unfortunately after sending data back to earth, Yutu will not return to earth as we currently do not have that technology. But by the time China enters the third phase of its moon probe, which is around 2018, its rover will be able to bring back samples from the moon for further analysis. So far the US has brought back about 400 kilograms of moon samples including rocks and soil.

Editor:James |Source:

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