China’s first robotic moon rover 140-kilogram (300-pound) “Jade Rabbit” rover separated from the much larger landing vehicle early Sunday, around seven hours after the unmanned Chang’e 3 space probe touched down on a flat, Earth-facing part of the moon leaving deep tracks on its loose soil, state media reported Sunday, several hours after the country successfully carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades.
The State-run China Central Television showed images taken from the lander’s camera of the rover and its shadow moving down a sloping ladder and touching the surface, setting off applause in the Beijing control center. It said the lander and rover, both bearing Chinese flags, would take photos of each other Sunday evening.
Later, the six-wheeled rover will survey the moon’s geological structure and surface and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will carry out scientific explorations at the landing site for one year. Jade Rabbit, or Yutu, will start sending back data and pictures from Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, a basaltic plain formed from lava that filled a crater.
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