China Lands Rover on the Moon

China’s Chang’e-3 and the lunar rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit) have landed on the lunar surface at 1:11 pm UTC on Saturday. The duo were launched by a Long March 3B on December 1, which was followed by a nominal flight into lunar orbit and subsequently China’s first soft landing on the Moon.

China’s Mission to the Moon:

The Chinese duo have enjoyed a trouble-free flight towards the Moon, with the spacecraft entering a reported 210.3 x 389109.2 km x 28.5 deg orbit during the week.
As many as three orbital corrections were understood to be required, with the first taking place at 07:50 UTC on December 2, followed by a second at 08:20 UTC on December 3.

While the Chinese didn’t report information about the second burn, it is understood a third was not required.

Z8After entering a 100 km lunar orbit on December 6, Chang’e-3 began to prepare its systems for the most important phase of the mission – the landing. On December 10, the probe executed a burn of its main engine to lower its altitude above the lunar surface.

Upon entering lunar orbit, Chang’e-3 underwent six stages of deceleration to descend from 15 km above to the lunar surface using a variable thrust engine.

During the descent the attitude of the probe was controlled using 28 small thrusters.

Following deceleration, the vehicle quickly adjusted its attitude, approaching the lunar surface. During this phase the instruments analyzed the planned descent area.

The main engine automatically shutdown at an altitude of four meters, allowing the rover to free fall on the surface.

The landing sequence was executed perfectly, resulting in the vehicle selecting its preferred landing spot almost immediately, even landing without delay, technically 30 minutes ahead of schedule.

After the soft landing, Chang’e-3 will charge and initialize the Yutu rover that will start to communicate with mission control. After communications are established, Yutu will unlock the locking mechanism and then drive to the ladder transfer mechanism.

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