China successfully soft-lands on moon, first in nearly four decades

By Kyle Johnson,

On Saturday, China successfully soft-landed their space probe on the moon, achieving something that hasn't been done in the last 37 years and only the third nation to ever do so behind the United States and the former USSR.

With Saturday's landing out of the way, China can now begin to focus on their next goal, to have a Chinese astronaut step onto the moon, according to The Associated Press.

The probe, Chang'e 3, took 12 minutes to land and will now begin to separate from the "Yutu" (Jade Rabbit) rover, which will explore the moon for the next three months.

"It's still a significant technological challenge to land on another world," consultant editor for Jane's Space Systems and Industry Peter Bond said. "Especially somewhere like the moon, which doesn't have an atmosphere so you can't use parachutes or anything like that."

The Washington Post reports that the landing was done in what is known as the right eye of the "Man in the Moon."

Images sent back from the landing were shown on state television as well as video of scientists celebrating the success of their soft landing.

For the next three months the Yutu rover will explore the surface, but is also equipped with a telescope to survey further out into space and an ultraviolet camera to photograph the plasmasphere around the Earth.


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