China Lands First Probe on Moon’s Surface

by Tom Edathikunnel

China's Lunar RoverAccording to Nasaspaceflight, China’s Chang’e-3 and the lunar rover Yutu, also known as Jade Rabbit, have landed on the lunar surface at approximately 8:11 EST.  Launched on December 1st, these rovers followed a normal flight plan and are now China’s first soft landing on the Moon.

Yutu is equipped with a solar panel which will power the rover during the three-month mission. Yutu will explore a three square kilometer area (roughly 7.7 miles) from the landing point. The rover is capable of real time video transmission and is equipped with a number of instruments for soil sampling and testing.

The details of the launch and landing aside, this marks a big step for China as well as space exploration as a whole.  The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) launched by India earlier this year, as well as the recent findings by NASA’s Curiosity Rover, have ignited newfound interest in the unknown realms of outer space.

China's Lunar Rover 2China’s robotic foot on the moon symbolizes two things. The first is that they are truly an advancing country and with the smog and air pollution issue aside, seem to be funding money into tangible technology for the future. This also demonstrates their power to organize and fund complex missions, which means that it will not be long before they set their eyes on larger and more daring exploratory endeavors.

This pressure may be a much-needed incentive for the United State’s Space Program. Mining projects, colonies, and other theoretical missions have been conjured since the early era of the Space Race, but until now have remained too expensive and risky for implementing.  Perhaps a rivalry with China or India may change that.

I see these findings as a progressive step towards more funding and more advancement in space exploration worldwide, but specifically within the United States.  Perhaps more manned mission to the moon or even to Mars may be in the future, especially with countries beginning to trek into space. Recent reports of Europa’s seismic activity have also garnered attention and I remain eager to see what new missions and finding lay in the future.