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Process of photo-taking between the rover and the lander

12-15-2013 22:58 BJT Special Report: Chang’e-3 Lunar Probe |

As Yutu Rover is already successfully seperated from the Chang’E 3 lunar lander, it will start a new journey by itself. Now let’s take a closer look at the rover, and what it will be doing on the moon. Here is my colleague Wang Mangmang with more.

The six-wheeled rover named Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, has been separated from the lander to explore the moon’s surface.

Yutu carries a radar unit on its underside, allowing for the first direct measurement of the lunar soil’s structure. It can dig and perform simple analysis of soil samples and has automatic sensors to prevent it from colliding with other objects.

It will get its energy from a solar panel, allowing the rover to operate through lunar days. Yutu is tasked with surveying the moon’s geological structure and surface substances, while looking for natural resources.

The Chang’E 3 lunar lander and Yutu rover will take photographs of each other once they separate and exploration of the moon’s surface begins.

After the soft landing and once communications are established between the lander and the rover, Yutu has unlocked the locking mechanism and then drive to the ladder transfer mechanism.

After this, the rover descended to the surface of the moon. Some nine hours after their separation, Chang’e 3 and Yutu will capture photographs of each other using their cameras. The Chang’e 3 lander is equipped with several cameras including the Descent Camera and the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager.

The Yutu rover carries a Panoramic Camera for real time video transmissions. The camera will provide stereo images in high-resolution and will eventually give three-dimensional imaging for the scientists on Earth. Now let’s turn to a virtual studio for a more detailed look.

Here’s a closer look at the process of photo-taking between the rover and the lander.

Hello and welcome to Hongwan on the moon, the new home for Chang’e 3. Now a brief introduction to the Lunar rover Yutu. Yutu is now out of the lander, onto the moon, and moving freely. On the front side, we see China’s national flag. First let’s take a closer look at its appearance. I’m now standing beside it. I’m barely 5’5’’ on my heels, so you can see that Yutu is about 4’9’’. Then let’s compare its width to my outstretched arms. A grown up person has the same height as the width of his outstretched arms. But Yutu is different. This is because Yutu has lots of solar panels which will provide the energy it needs.

Now we move on to its weight. Yutu weighs about 140 kilograms. It’s rather slim. Remember this figure, because the weight of the moon rover plays a key role in its functions. I’ve asked our space scientists, can we have Yutu move faster? Can Yutu bring more equipment with it? The answer is, the more Yutu weighs, the more it can do. This is just the prototype of China’s moon mission; let the scientists take their time.

Now I would like to introduce some of Yutu’s major parts. Yutu needs to have eyes if it wants to move around. We have one pair of eyes, while Yutu has three pairs. Let’s find them. First, this pair of eyes on top of Yutu, the dark eyes are called navigation camera. They can see clearly ten meters around. Under the dark eyes, we can see the pair of white eyes, called panoramic camera. They can see clearly 30 meters around. Data taken on these two cameras are sent back to Earth, so scientists can study it and help make judgement for the vehicle. Then they can control the vehicle and tell it where to go and how to get there. Yutu also has a pair of eyes for itself. Let’s look down. We can see China’s national flag, very clearly, and then the two red buttons here, and then down here, we can see a pair of black eyes, called Obstacle avoidance camera. They send data to Yutu’s brain so the vehicle can avoid obstacles and find its way. So we need these three pairs of eyes working together. With remote control from Earth and its own judgement, the lunar rover vehicle can thus see clearly and move easily.

Thousand-Mile Eye is not enough. The lunar vehicle also needs Wind-Accompanying Ear. Where is it? Let’s have a look. Yes, this big round disk that can swing. Its function is to find Earth, no matter how the relative position changes between Earth and Moon. In this way, Yutu and earth can be closely connected.

We are moving on to its legs, these six wheels. They are called Elastic mesh wheels. We will understand why they are called Elastic mesh wheels when we see the details. The design reduces the weight, and also helps the vehicle move on the soft moon soil. Their elasticity also allows the wheels to absorb shocks. People who often drive, know that a car has different driving system: front drive, back drive or four-wheel drive. Yutu has six drives, and each wheel can run in its own way, even when the vehicle is moving on the moon’s soil. What is it good for? Let’s have a look. We see that the wheels are spinning but the rover is not moving forward. Each of its six wheels is moving in a different way. It’s OK if you didn’t see clearly. Let’s have a look again.

Well, now let’s look at a small but vital part. Pay attention to the suspension system. It has a main swinging arm and a supportive swinging arm. The design guarantees the lunar rover vehicle moves smoothly on the moon soil, even on a bumpy road. Actually, some institutes and hobbyists have designed their own lunar vehicles, some of which have four wheels. The question is, why six wheels? Let’s do an experiment. Let’s assume that a four wheel lunar vehicle is landed on the moon...let’s see what will happen. Now we see this lunar rover vehicle. It has a similar structure, but with four wheels. Come to the moon! Immediately it encounters a large rock, and then it loses its balance and finally falls down. Not like Earth, you can’t find a rescue team on the moon. So if the vehicle falls down, we need to say goodbye forever. Now you can see how important it is to have six wheels with swinging arms.

Now you have a general idea about Yutu. Let’s get more information from its first task. Yutu’s first task happens on the first moon day, called two vehicles taking photos of each other. That’s the rover vehicle taking photos of the lander, and vice-versa. Pay attention to this photo, a photo of the rover taken from the lander. We see the Chinese national flag on the rover, the first of its kind taken on the moon surface.


Editor:James |Source:

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