It came as quite a surprise to many to learn that China had joined the elite club of nations who have managed to reach the moon.
Although unlike the manned American missions of the late sixties, the Chinese opted instead of a man to land a sophisticated rover designed to complete a number of tasks while driving around on the lunar surface.
The Chinese National Space Agency’s Chang’-e lander successfully touched down and deployed its Yutu rover which started its three month mission to explore the Sinus Iridium otherwise known as Bay of Rainbows. The six wheeled robotic rover is equipped with high tech radar devices that will allow scientist to see what is 100 or so meters below the surface as the rover makes it journey.
These cameras will make it much easier to see what is under the dark side of the moon which is noted to have once had active volcanoes that left lava flows that might have left tunnels below the surface. Chinese scientists feel these tunnels might be usable for future colonies and want the rover to take a closer look. an underground colony might stand a better chance at protecting humans from the various radiations that make space so dangerous.
The lander has an ultraviolet camera pointed at Earth which will allow greater study of our environment through study of the plasmophere. In some ways this is more stable then a camera on a satellite as it can study more of the Earth without moving. The lander is also equipped with a telescope that will allow to see the rest of the solar system from a new perspective.
The Chinese have taken what appears to be a bold and high tech step into the future of man’s relationship with the stars. It’s only a matter of time before their efforts lead to new discoveries or technologies that will help us all understand the cosmos better.