Chang’e 3 Lander Beams Back New Lunar Panorama Photos

by Bob King on January 18, 2014

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The Yutu rover and lander solar panels are seen in this new image sent Jan. 17 from the moon. Credit: Chinanews.com

The Yutu rover and lander solar panels are seen in this new image sent Jan. 17 from the moon. For larger versions of any photos, just click. Credit: Chinanews.com

Little by little we’re getting sharper, clearer pictures from the Chinese Chang’e 3 moon mission. Yesterday the lander beamed back a series of new photos taken with its panoramic camera. Stitched together, they give us a more detailed and colorful look of the rover’s surroundings in northern Mare Imbrium. I’ve ordered the images starting with a nice crisp view of the Yutu rover; from there we turn by degree to the right across the five frames. The final mosaic unfortunately doesn’t have the resolution yet of the other images. Perhaps one will be published soon.

The lander's solar panels stand out in the foreground with a smattering of small craters nearby. Credit: Chinanews.com

The lander’s solar panels stand out in the foreground with a smattering of small craters nearby. Credit: Chinanews.com

Right of the rover we see more panels and a radio communications dish. Credit: Chinanews.com

Right of the rover we see more panels and a radio communications dish. Credit: Chinanews.com

A larger crater surrounded by what appears to be excavated impact ejecta is visible near the horizon at upper right. Credit: Chinanews.com

A larger crater surrounded by what appears to be excavated impact ejecta is visible near the horizon at upper right. Credit: Chinanews.com

Yutu's tracks stand out in this final image. Credit: Chinanews.com

Yutu’s tracks and another crater with ejecta stand out in this final image. Credit: Chinanews.com

 

Complete, if small, panorama stitched from the single images. Credit: Chinanews.com

Complete, if small, panorama stitched from the single images. Credit: Chinanews.com

 

One thing that stands out to my eye when looking at the photos is the brown color of the lunar surface soil or regolith. Color images of the moon’s surface by the Apollo astronauts along with ┬átheir verbal descriptions indicate a uniform gray color punctuated in rare spots by patches of more colorful soils.

Apollo 15 astronauts salutes next to the American flag in 1971. The moon's regolith or soil appears a variety of shades of gray. Credit: NASA

Apollo 15 astronauts salutes next to the American flag in 1971. The moon’s regolith or soil appears a variety of shades of gray. Credit: NASA

The famous orange soil scooped up by Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan comes to mind. Because Apollo visited six different moonscapes – all essentially gray – it makes me wonder if the color balance in the Chinese images might be off. Or did Chang’e 3 just happen to land on browner soils?

The orange soil found by Apollo 17 astronauts really stands out against a uniform gray moonscape. Credit: NASA

The orange soil found by Apollo 17 astronauts really stands out against a uniform gray moonscape. Credit: NASA

 

About 

I'm a long-time amateur astronomer and member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO). My observing passions include everything from auroras to Z Cam stars. Every day the universe offers up something both beautiful and thought-provoking. I also write a daily astronomy blog called Astro Bob.

Mohsen Salahshoor .Ch January 18, 2014 at 2:14 PM

there is just a little more red and green in Chang’e 3 Images.

Aqua4U January 18, 2014 at 2:30 PM
Joel Raupe January 18, 2014 at 3:10 PM

These basaltic terrains surfaced and re-surfaced with Fe and TiO2-rich regolith after the, so-called, late heavy bombardment that originally created the Imbrium basin. The Imbrium Flows effected the surface here almost a billion years after the basin formed. And there is almost certainly a mix between the two kinds of surfaces in the immediate area (seen more clearly in the Clementine UVVIS false color), if only from what’s been tossed up by nearby small impacts.

Joel Raupe January 18, 2014 at 3:32 PM

These appear to be excellently re-formatted segments of the lander panorama swept up Dec. 17 through Dec. 18, and released with the Preliminary Science Results from the CAS.

UFOsMOTHER January 18, 2014 at 10:37 PM

Its great to see new pictures from the moon after all these years, thanks China I had almost given up hope,…….Also continued success with this outstanding mission

Bea300 January 19, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Or maybe some of apollos images where shot in a studio!

Luavas Inpula January 19, 2014 at 5:36 PM

Why is the apparent orison so close like the ”rover” is staying on a mound. If the sea of tranquility is ”flat” the perspective should be at least few kilometers and not few tens of meters. Then the ski is pitch black… not even a star … not even with 21st century tech…. And if the Bugs Bunny is equipped with nuke techy to stay worm at night why not we don;t get any data from ‘night time dreams’… Selfish Communists…. And so more…. if the lunar surface is BOMBARDED for millions of years with meteorites and micrometeorites where are the craters of mini and micro meteorites on the pictures…. And to keep the conspiracy theory alive I don’t think we are getting the real thing from the moon… I;m very disappointed that we got non of the footage of the flight from Earth to the moon….. NOTHING> and then …. for our comfort… for the moon landing we got only the simulation and the same rocket visual effect like the Apollo missions. No disturbance on the ground produced from the boosters. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. And hey…. no pics of our beloved mother Earth …… nothing. That is what we get from you China, and the US and the rest of you orcs, NOTHING. Thanks for nothing

Christian January 19, 2014 at 7:39 PM

Manually combined them into a poor man’s panorama. There is almost no overlap in the individual images and even a gap in the center.

TimWebb January 20, 2014 at 3:49 PM

Do people really still believe in this nonsense?

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