China to send 'jade rabbit' to Moon: state media

Nov 26, 2013 by Tom Hancock
A model of a lunar rover that will explore the moon's surface in an upcoming space mission is seen on display at the China International Industry Fair 2013 in Shanghai on November 5, 2013

China will launch its first ever moon rover early next month, state media said Tuesday, with the vehicle named "Jade Rabbit" in a nod to Chinese folklore.

The name derives from an ancient Chinese myth about a white rabbit which lives on the moon as the pet of Chang'e, a lunar goddess who swallowed an immortality pill.

The rocket carrying the probe will be launched in early December, China's official Xinhua news agency said, citing the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.

It did not give a specific date. China has previously sent two probes to orbit the moon, with controllers sending the first of them crashing into the lunar surface at the end of its mission.

"China has named its first moon rover 'Yutu', or jade rabbit, following an online poll," Xinhua added.

The rabbit's outline is said to be visible on the moon's surface, similar to the Western concept of the "man in the moon".

Beijing sees its military-run space programme as a marker of its rising global stature and growing technological might, as well as the ruling Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

It has ambitious plans to create a permanent space station by 2020 and eventually send a human to the moon, but its technology currently lags behind the expertise of the United States and Russia.

The Shenzhou X spacecraft carried by a Long March-2F carrier rocket is installed at the launch pad in Jiuquan, Northwest China's Gansu province in the morning of June 3, 2013

China showed off a model of the gold-coloured moon rover, with six wheels and wing-like solar panels earlier this month.

The vehicle can climb inclines of up to 30 degrees and travel up to 200 metres (yards) per hour, its designers said.

References to a moon rabbit in Chinese folklore date back to the Warring States period, which ended in 221 BC.

Ouyang Ziyuan, head of the moon rover project, told Xinhua that the ancient beliefs had their origins in the marks left by impacts on the lunar landscape.

"There are several black spots on the moon's surface, our ancient people imagined they were a moon palace, osmanthus trees, and a jade rabbit," he said.

China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, was launched in 2007.

The next, Chang'e-2, began its journey three years later and after orbiting the moon was sent on a mission into deep space to monitor an asteroid.

That probe is "expected to travel as far as 300 million km from Earth, the longest voyage of any Chinese spacecraft", Xinhua quoted an official as saying.

That remains a small fraction of the distance travelled by the US' Voyager-1, launched in 1977, which left the solar system and has travelled nearly 19 billion kilometres away from its home planet.

Chinese social media users welcomed the name on Tuesday. "I look forward to the jade rabbit visiting the moon palace, go Chinese aerospace!" wrote one poster on Sina Weibo, a service similar to Twitter.

The name was chosen in an online poll, with 3.4 million people taking part, Xinhua reported.

"Yutu is a symbol of kindness, purity and agility, and is identical to the moon rover in both outlook and connotation," it quoted Li Benzheng, deputy commander-in-chief of China's lunar programmme, as saying.

"Yutu also reflects China's peaceful use of space," he added.

Explore further: Video gives astronaut's-eye view inside NASA's Orion spacecraft

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User comments : 3

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VendicarE
not rated yet Nov 26, 2013
I don't see any Jade, and I don't see any rabbit.

Although I do often see the rabbit in the moon.
GSwift7
not rated yet Nov 26, 2013
China has become a significant part of the space community. Too bad NASA is prohibited from working directly with them. Maybe we will come to our senses and lift that prohibition soon. At least China is sharing what it learns. At least for now, it is in China's interest to bragg about everything it does, since prestige is the whole point for them. At some point in the future, maybe not too far off, the people of Earth will want to build things in space that are too big to build without uniting all the space-faring countries. I wonder how long space can remain a place where political differences are left behind? How long before there is reason for countries to have conflict over something in space, and take action on it?
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2013
China has become a significant part of the space community. Too bad NASA is prohibited from working directly with them. Maybe we will come to our senses and lift that prohibition soon. At least China is sharing what it learns. At least for now, it is in China's interest to bragg about everything it does, since prestige is the whole point for them. At some point in the future, maybe not too far off, the people of Earth will want to build things in space that are too big to build without uniting all the space-faring countries. I wonder how long space can remain a place where political differences are left behind? How long before there is reason for countries to have conflict over something in space, and take action on it?

Your Comment really sounds good. (Hope they do not move from Mars to Galaxies here afterwards). It is really Essential & should be of Top Priority to work on Nearby Moon & Asteroids ASAP.

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