TIANJIN, Chang'e-2, China's second lunar probe has been a huge success and is now the smallest man-made asteroid in the solar system, according to a leading scientist.
The lunar probe, launched on Oct. 1, 2010, has fulfilled its mission and made worthwhile achievements, said Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's Lunar Exploration Project, on Sunday.
The lunar probe has, for the first time, completed and published a full seven-meter-resolution map of the Moon's surface. Using lanthanum bromide detectors, it acquired the map which shows the distribution of elements, such as uranium, thorium, potassium and iron, on the surface of the Moon, Ouyang said.
It also used X-ray observation data to fully map the Moon's surface and calculate aluminum distribution on the Moon, Ouyang said.
"Currently, the Chang'e-2 is the smallest man-made asteroid in the solar system. It has completed over 200 million kilometers flight and will continue to fly, returning somewhere closer to the earth around 2029," he said.
In 2007, The Chang'e-1 mission started the era of China's lunar exploration, and the launch of the Chang'e-2 and Chang'e-3 followed soon after. China plans to launch the Chang'e-5 lunar probe in 2017. The Chang'e-4 is scheduled to be sent to the far side of the moon in 2018.
China "well prepared" to launch Chang'e-5 lunar probe in 2017: top scientist
TIANJIN, China is well prepared to launch the Chang'e-5 lunar probe in 2017 to collect and bring back moon rock samples for scientific research, a leading Chinese scientist said Sunday.
Chief Scientist of China's Lunar Exploration Project Ouyang Ziyuan told reporters in northern city of Tianjin that the launch of Chang'e-5 represents the third stage of China's lunar exploration endeavor.
The first stage of lunar expedition was achieved by sending Chang'e-1, a circumlunar satellite, in 2007. For the second stage, China landed its lunar probe Chang'e-3 on the surface of the moon in 2013.
The scientist said the analysis of the structure and component of the samples to be collected by Chang'e-5 would help scientists deepen the study into the formation and the evolution of the moon.
"We are ready. Every lab is ready," he said. "Once the samples are back, we can begin our analysis right away."
He said the launch of Chang'e-5 would improve China's space science technology.
Ouyang also confirmed the launch of Chang'e-4, a relay of Chang'e-3, in 2018 to land on the far side of the moon, a breakthrough in human history.
The launch of the two lunar probes were first announced by State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense earlier this year.