Dec 4, 2013

Chang'e 3's Unmanned Moon Landing Mission

Chang'e 3 is a Chinese soft-landing moon mission. It features a moon lander (Chang'e 3) and a moon rover (Yutu).

Fig. 1 (left) the artist's impression of the moon goddess Chang'e; (right) a yutu or a jade rabbit
Chang'e was the wife of Yi the Archer (not be confused with Lord Yi, Xia dynasty). Yi the Archer and his wife lived in the dawn of the Hua Xia civilization. As a hero of his time, Yi killed 9 monsters and managed to see the Goddess Wangmu on the Kunlun Montain. Wangmu gave him the elixir of immortality. Chang'e stole the elixir and became the goddess of the moon.

羿請不死之藥於西王母,姮娥竊而食之,不知不死之藥所由生也。 《淮南子二十二卷》
The rabbit was actually a different myth regarding the moon shadow. Later on, the two myths merged and the rabbit became Chang'e's pet.

Fig. 2, the ancients' impression of the lunar shadow as a rabbit. 
So much about the names and myths. The Chang'e 3 mission is planned to land in Sinus Iridum. The coordinate of the center of Sinus Iridum is 44.1°N , 31.5°W. The nearest historical lunar site is the former Soviet Union's Luna 17. The final landing coordinate however is 44.12°N 19.51°W, in the Mare Imbrium, ~100 km from Sinus Iridum, ~400km from the Luna 17 site. It has been reported as in the planned 91 km x 356 km Sinus Iridum landing area.

Fig. 2 the designated landing area. 

Fig. 3, Chang'E 3 mission shown together with the historical luna missions.
The closest crater near the site is Laplace F, a 3 mile crate.

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