Chinese ‘Jade Rabbit’ Rover Aims For The Moon On Sunday

If all goes well, expect another moon robot very soon. The Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) rover will lift off from China as a part of the Chang’e-3 mission — target launch date Sunday (Nov. 29) — to explore the moon’s Sea of Rainbows after its scheduled landing two weeks later, Dec. 14.

There are other spacecraft orbiting the moon — including the newly launched LADEE from NASA, which is checking out the moon’s tenuous atmosphere — but if this mission succeeds, it would be the first soft landing since Russia’s Luna-24 in 1976. That’s a 37-year drought.

Recent English information on the mission is scarce, but it’s been widely reported that the mission will include a lander in a six-wheeled rover. This Chinese news agency notes that planners expect to put up an astronomical telescope, test remote control between the moon and the Earth, and explore areas around the landing location. You can also read (dated) background information on the mission on the Chinese National Space Administration’s website.

A 50-foot (15-meter) tracking dish at the European Space Agency's tracking station at Kourou, French Guiana. In the background is the successful Herschel and Planck launch of May 14, 2009. Credit: ESA/A. Chance
A 50-foot (15-meter) tracking dish at the European Space Agency’s tracking station at Kourou, French Guiana. In the background is the successful Herschel and Planck launch of May 14, 2009. Credit: ESA/A. Chance

The European Space Agency (ESA), meanwhile, released a press update describing how people from its organization will help track the mission during its journey to the moon. The Europeans will be helping the Chinese track the mission all the way to the time it is expected to reach the surface. After the mission lands, ESA will use two antennas to perform a measurement intended to figure out — “with extreme accuracy”, the agency says — where the lander is located.

And for those who remember, a fun bit of history from 1969 recalled by the Planetary Society: during Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the moon, this ground-to-moon exchange actually happened:

Capcom: Roger. Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there’s one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.

Buzz Aldrin, slated to be second man on the moon: Okay. We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.

22 Replies to “Chinese ‘Jade Rabbit’ Rover Aims For The Moon On Sunday”

    1. I want a rover too! THAT would be more than just fun driving! But for my rover, I’d want robotic arms and legs, like on a ‘Robonaut’ Mk. 7? Something to ‘go to work’ with on the Moon and Mars, to build habitats in lava tubes, erect antenna arrays, PV solar farms, landing and launch pads, build an automated elemental materials extraction and gas storage facility/factory, a far-side radio telescope located in a meteor crater, ongoing mineralogical topographic surveys, etc., etc. and so on….

  1. Finally, a rover actually landing on the moon!
    I hope they now give a live view webcam so we can watch it too 🙂

    1. Finally? The Russians landed Lunokhods long ago.

      The US lunar rover project called ‘Prospector’ never got off the ground. However, our first Lunar roving vehicles had drivers right at the local controls…

      1. With finally I mean, it too a hell of a long time before someone actually landed again. LRO images are cool, but way more cooler is images down at the ground just like the Mars rovers.

  2. The 29th of November is a Friday, next Sunday is the first of December. There is no ‘Sea of Rainbows’ – the Sinus Iridum is the Bay of Rainbows. UniverseToday is usually better than this

  3. Or they can simply read all the open literature, and apply their own engineers to the project, just as the Google Lunar X Prize teams do. Or did Clinton ‘give’ them something, too?

    Just *seeing* how someone else (including the Russians) has done something, is often half the battle…

    1. D100, as I recall when Bubba was in office the Chicoms were doing a missile launch and it blew up on pad so Klinton asked the Rand corporation to go and resolve the issue, and they did.

  4. Tribal mind with space tech. Ridiculous missions…like some crazy squirrels. Instead of joining int. space program both india and chincom is throwing out resources.

  5. Will the US Congress now get it’s act together so we can return to the Moon and establish a permanent man base there finally.

    1. too busy wasting NASA’s funding on SLS/Orion pork for congressional districts and the President is too busy fixing websites

  6. You mean the same international space program that the United States banned them from participating in?

    1. If grown enough for endeavour with the rest of the world they would find a way to join. I’m prone to believe they must spend a time to play out alone for a while.

  7. Even with all the tech that they’ve stolen from the U.S. – I doubt that they have the necessary logistics and downstream QC to pull this off. Jade Rabbit – will likely be Dead Peking Duck on arrival.

    Remember folks, America put a man on the moon all the way back in ’69.

  8. Funny the ESA is helping to track the craft. The Russians had help from Great Britain to track their probe back in the early days of the space race. They tracked it all the way to the impact point. I think the Chinese just want to drive around on the Moon and knock over all the American flags .

  9. True, and the did launch their own space station, and can send their own astronauts into orbit themselves. Just sad that the exclusion is politically motivated and driven by an antiquated cold war mentality.

    1. „Bow down!”
      – and the first “rival” had been created by the ancient tale. I like to think
      about NASA as a society of TOP professionals, and here is my hope that with generating
      rivalry or, if you like, competition, by using the ancient recipe instead
      uniting resources will lead to much rapid developments in space exploration.

      1. NASA is a very professional organisation, and they are extremely enthusiastic about exploration, and if it’s up to them the international partnership could be truly international.. It’s Congress that’s blocking any cooperation with the Chinese space program.

        I followed the Mars 500 experiment, which had ESA, Russian and Chinese crew members in the experiment, so others are doing it already, and NASA is being held behind unfairly

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