China will launch an unmanned lunar probe in early December, according to reports announced on Tuesday. The vehicle, called Yutu (玉兔) in Mandarin or Jade Rabbit in English, follows two previous probes sent by China to orbit the moon. Jade Rabbit will be the first Chinese probe to explore the moon’s surface.
The probe weighs 140kg, has six wheels and two wings. It is projected to land either in Sinus Iridum or the Bay of Rainbows, with the Bay of Rainbow the preferred, as its ample sunshine and location will enable smooth communication. Also, the Bay of Rainbows is an area that has not yet been surveyed by other countries. The lunar probe is expected to explore the moon for three months.
The lunar probe’s name derives from traditional Chinese folklore. Yutu was said to be the pet rabbit of the moon goddess Chang’e. The rabbit’s outline is said to be visible on the moon’s surface. The name was selected by the Chinese public home and abroad, according to Xinhua. Apparently, out of 3.4 million people, 650,000 selected Yutu.
The probe is part of an ongoing military-run space program, whose celestial sights focus on the moon and beyond. With ambitious plans to send an astronaut to the moon and into deep space.
China’s space plans are a source of national pride and, though ambitious, are seemingly not competitive; Li Benzheng, deputy commander-in-chief of China’s lunar program stated that: “We are open in our lunar program, and cooperation from other countries is welcome.” Adding that he believed space exploration’s aim was to use resources to promote human development.
image from www.cecb2b.com