China lands spacecraft on the moon
In December 2013 China became the third country to successfully land a spacecraft on the moon. Only the Soviet Union and the United States have achieved such a task. The lunar landing is the first in 37 years and a major step forward in China's space program.
Immediately after landing in the Bay of Rainbows on the moon's northern hemisphere, the lander unfolded its solar panels to generate power and started sending the first images back to earth.
The Chiang'e-3 lunar lander was equipped with a robot called Jade Rabbit, named after the pet of a Chinese goddess. The six-wheeled solar-powered vehicle is the most complex robot to travel over the moon's surface. It has a robotic arm and a series of cameras mounted on it. The landing of Chiang'e-3 is the first in a series of missions that will eventually bring back rocks from the surface of the moon.
The first lunar landing is part of China's venture to explore new fields in science and technology. It aims at installing a space station in earth's orbit by 2020 and eventually landing a man on the moon. The Communist country first sent an astronaut into space 10 years ago.
The lander will not only observe the moon's surface but also examine the earth and other objects in the sky. Although American and Russian scientists are not talking part in the mission they do hope to profit from China's landing because they may get a chance to examine new data from the moon's surface.
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- solar panel = material that uses the sun's energy to create power
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