China Prepares the Chang E2 Lunar Probe

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China’s second lunar probe, the Chang’e-2, will fly much faster than its predecessor and reach lunar orbit within a shorter period of time. China is set to launch the Chang’e-2 lunar probe at the end of the year. The country launched its first lunar probe, Chang’e-1, named after China’s mythical Moon Goddess, on Oct. 24, 2007, from southwest China’s Sichuan Province. The probe ended its 16-month mission on March 1, 2009, when it crashed into the moon’s surface. Chang’e-2 can reach lunar orbit within five days, compared to 13 days, 14 hours and 19 minutes for Chang’e-1. Chang’e 2 will orbit 100 km closer to the moon and carry a higher resolution camera. The Chang’e-2 orbiter is designed to test key soft landing technologies for Chang’e-3 and provide high-resolution photo images of the landing area.

China is planning to launch the Chang’e-3 on the moon in 2013. Then, in 2017, a moon rock sample will be returned to earth.

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