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Chang'e 3

NSSDCA/COSPAR ID: 2013-070A

Description

Chang'e 3 is a Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) lunar landing mission designed to study the Moon from its stationary landing platform and with a rover. Chang'e 3 comprises a Lunar Landing Vehicle (LLV) with a total mass of 3700 - 3800 kg. The LLV consists of a soft lander and rover, designated Yutu (Jade Rabbit). The lander has a mass of 1200 kg and will carry four scientific instruments. The Yutu rover is about 1.5 meters tall and has a mass of 120 kg with a 20 kg payload consisting of four instruments.

Chang'e 3 launched aboard a Changzheng-3B (Long March 3B) rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on 1 December 17:30 UT (2 December 1:30 a.m. BJST local time). The spacecraft was inserted into a 100 km circular parking orbit around the Moon on 6 December at 09:53 UT (5:53 p.m. Beijing time) after a 361-second braking maneuver. The LLV orbit was then lowered to a 15 x 100 km orbit. At periapse on 14 December, the LLV fired its thrusters and descended to 100 meters above the surface. It hovered at this altitude to move to a suitable landing site, then descended to 4 meters and cut off its engines to fall to the surface. Chang'e 3 landed in northern Mare Imbrium at 13:11 UT (21:11 BJST) on 14 December. The Yutu rover rolled onto the lunar surface on 14 December at 20:35 UT (15 December 04:35 a.m. BJST). The lander is designed to operate for approximately one year on the lunar surface.

The lander is equipped with three panoramic cameras, a topography camera, an extreme ultraviolet camera, and an ultraviolet telescope. The Yutu rover was designed and built by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). It is a six-wheeled vehicle powered by solar cells. Mounted on top of the LLV, it was lowered on a ramp onto the lunar surface after landing. It has a maximum total range of 10 km and can explore an area of 3 square km over 90 Earth days. Instruments include a stereo camera, ground penetrating radar, visible/near-infrared imaging spectrometer, and alpha particle x-ray spectrometer. It also has navigation and hazard avoidance cameras and may have a lunar soil probe. Data will be transmitted back to Earth in real time.

Image credit CNSA, CCTV

Alternate Names

  • Chang'e 3 Lander
  • 39458

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2013-12-01
Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B
Launch Site: Xichang, Peoples Republic of China

Funding Agency

  • China National Space Administration (Peoples Republic of China)

Discipline

  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

Questions or comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams.

 
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