This is your chance to observe the moon like never before thanks to China's incredible High-Definition images of the lunar surface
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While exploring the lunar surface, China’s Chang’e 3 lander discovered a new type of moon rock, and managed to snap THOUSANDS of high-resolution images of the moon.

For the first time ever, you can take a peek at the lunar surface like never before thanks to the sophisticated cameras located onboard the Chang’e 3, one of China’s most advanced lunar landers.

Chang'e 3 lander in the distance  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

The Yutu rover took the images for this panorama on January 13, 2014, during the rover's second lunar day on the surface, while close to "Pyramid Rock." Two Earth days later, the rover's motor unit failed, after it had driven substantially closer to the lander.

The Lunar Mission touched down on the moon in 2013, on the region known as Mare Imbrium – where researchers believe in the distant past, actual water could have existed — making China the third country in the history of mankind to achieve a soft landing on the lunar surface, after the Soviet Union and United States of America.

While the mission took place in 2013, China’s National Space Administration released thousands of the high definition images during 2015. The images however, weren’t displayed by western media due to the fact that China is used to release images in a period of one to one and a half years after received them, using a website written in Chinese to showcase them, reason why western media didn’t put much effort into showcasing the images before.

Yutu on the road  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

The Chang'e 3 lander captured the four images for this mosaic of the Yutu rover driving southward on December 23, 2013. Yutu's right solar panel is angled downward to catch the glancing sunlight at a better angle.

Tracks in the regolith  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Yutu's wheels carved curved tracks in the lunar soil. The images for this mosaic were taken on January 12, 2014.

Not long ago, Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla spent weeks searching through the photo trove – which has over 45 gigabytes of data — and presenting it all in a easily downloadable manner for the entire world to see.

When it comes to data sharing from China, the situation is pretty good says Lakdawalla, who notes that the images’ formats mirror those used by NASA and the European Space Agency. “It would probably be much easier if I could read the language.”

The images are beyond fascinating  and has helped scientists around the world, to understand the complex and mysterious geology of the lunar surface, even revealing a completely new moon rock, undiscovered by previous mission of the Soviet Union and United States.

Yutu rover view of Pyramid Rock (Long Yan)  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

This is a mosaic of six images captured by the Yutu rover on January 13, 2014, after it had driven southwest of the lander to visit a large block of impact ejecta that the team named Long Yan (Pyramid Rock).

Two years after touching down on the lunar surface, the instruments onboard the lander remain functional.

China is trying to reach the top tier and show that they’re a major space power says Kevin Pollpeter, a Defense Group, Inc. analyst affiliated with the University of California San Diego. They’re also contributing real knowledge about the moon that we haven’t been able to get before

But China isn't stopping there and it seems they have great plans for the moon, revealing possible manned moon mission in the near future, expanding the lunar exploration like never before.

In 2017, China plans to send another lander to the moon which will even return numerous lunar samples back to Earth, exploring the moon in the process and helping researchers back on Earth understand the complex geology and origin of the moon, which has remained one of the most mysterious celestial objects in our solar system.

The Chinese lunar test mission Chang’e 5T1 has sent back some amazing and unique views of the Moon’s far side, with the Earth joining in for a cameo in the image above. According to the crew at UnmannedSpaceflight.com the images were taken with the spacecraft’s solar array monitoring camera.

The mission launched on October 23 and is taking an eight-day round trip flight around the Moon and is now journeying back to Earth. The mission is a test run for Chang’e-5, China’s fourth lunar probe that aims to gather samples from the Moon’s surface, currently set for 2017. Chang’e 5T1 will return to Earth on October 31.

The Moon and distant Earth  /  image by Xinhua News  /  source UnmannedSpaceflight.com

A unique view of the Moon and distant Earth from China’s Chang’e-5 T1 lunar test flight.

A closeup of Mare Marginis  /  image by Xinhua News  /  source UnmannedSpaceflight.com

A lunar sea that lies on the very edge of the lunar nearside.

The test flight orbit had a perigee of 209 kilometers and reached an apogee of about 380,000 kilometers, swinging halfway around the Moon, but did not enter lunar orbit.

A view of Earth  /  image by Xinhua News  /  source UnmannedSpaceflight.com

October 24, 2014, from the Chinese Chang’e-5 T1 spacecraft.

Here are more selected images from the Planetary Society posted by Emily Lakdawalla

Chang'e 3 data: Lander Terrain Camera  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Observation 0002 (December 15, 2013)

Chang'e 3 data: Lander Terrain Camera  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Observation 0009 (December 22, 2013)

Chang'e 3 data: Lander Terrain Camera  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Observation 0010 (December 23, 2013)

Chang'e 3 data: Rover Panoramic Camera  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Observation 0005 (December 21, 2013 22:40)

Chang'e 3 data: Rover Panoramic Camera  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Observation 0006 (December 24, 2013 18:53)

Chang'e 3 data: Rover Panoramic Camera  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Observation 0008 (January 13, 2014 19:00)

Chang'e 3 data: Rover Panoramic Camera  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Observation 0008 (January 13, 2014 19:00)

Chang'e 3 data: Rover Panoramic Camera  /  image by Emily Lakdawalla  /  source Planetary.org

Observation 0008 (January 13, 2014 19:00)

Chang'e 3 landing site geography  /  image by Phil Stooke  /  source Planetary.org

Named features visible during the descent of the Chang'e 3 lander, in a map produced by Phil Stooke for his Atlas of Lunar Exploration. Most of the names are from a Chang'e 3 mission overview paper by Chunlai Li and coauthors. (Li, C. et al, 2015. The Chang’e 3 Mission Overview. Space Science Reviews, v. 190, pp. 85-101.)

Yutu route map  /  image by Phil Stooke  /  source Planetary.org

The Yutu rover's path and scientific activities across the lunar surface, in a map produced by Phil Stooke for his Atlas of Lunar Exploration. The base map consists of a mosaic of images captured by the Chang'e 3 lander during its descent.

China also expects to land a probe on the so-called “dark side of the moon” two years earlier than planned, the country’s state media recently reported. The Chang'e 4 lander will reach the moon in 2018 instead of the earlier mark of 2020.

Source and references

  1. Planetary.org by Emily Lakdawalla - Fun with a new data set: Chang'e 3 lander and Yutu rover camera data
  2. Planetary.org by Emily Lakdawalla - Chang'e 3 Yutu rover panoramic camera (PCAM) data released as of January 20, 2016
  3. Planetary.org by Emily Lakdawalla - Chang'e 3 lander terrain camera data (TCAM) released as of January 20, 2016
  4. UnmannedSpaceflight.com - Chang'e program (Powered by Invision Power Board)
  5. News.XinhuaNet.com - Reentry return flight test instrument into the moon transfer orbit is expected to return to Earth on November 1
  6. Springer.com by Chunlai Li, Jianjun Liu, Xin Ren, Wei Zuo - The Chang’e 3 Mission Overview
  7. Wikipedia.org - Chang'e 3
  8. Mare Imbrium - Sea of Showers
  9. EWAO.com - China reaches the moon snapping incredible, never-before-seen high-definition images
  10. Universetoday.com by Nancy Atkinson - China's lunar test spacecraft takes incredible picture of Earth and Moon together
  11. Phys.org by Nancy Atkinson - China's lunar test spacecraft takes incredible picture of Earth and Moon together
  12. Fox News - China releases incredible images of the moon's surface

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Last updated 6 months ago on November 16, 2017 at 11:56 PM PST

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