Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University/CNSA/CLEP

NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) imagery has been used to further pinpoint the landing locale of China’s Chang’e-4 farside lander.

Looking at the just released Chang’e-4 descent frames to the surface made it easy to find the exact landing spot in a Narrow Angle Camera image produced by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, or LROC. That image was taken prior to the Chang’e-4’s touchdown, explains Mark Robinson, the principal investigator of the LROC at Arizona State University in Tempe.

The LROC is a system of three cameras mounted on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter that capture high resolution black and white images and moderate resolution multi-spectral images of the lunar surface.

A prominent crater, roughly 80 feet (25 meters) in diameter, is in front of the lander and can be seen in the LROC imagery, just below and to the left of the bottom arrow.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Prominent crater

China’s Chang’e-4 safely set down on the plains of Von Kármán crater last week, on January 3.

Soon thereafter a color image of the immediate surroundings was relayed back to the Earth from the farside.

In reviewing the imagery, Robinson says the prominent crater, roughly 80 feet (25 meters) in diameter, in front of the lander can be seen in the LROC imagery.

Toward the end of the month, LRO will be overflying the Von Kármán crater and may provide imagery of the lander and the Yutu-2 rover.

Future plans

Meanwhile, a senior Chinese space expert reports that China will deepen its lunar exploration plans, including establishing a scientific research station at the south polar region of the Moon.

Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)/Screengrab/Inside Outer Space

Wu Weiren, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, told China’s Xinhua news service that the country’s current lunar program includes three phases: orbiting, landing, and returning.

The first two phases have been accomplished, and the next step is to launch the Chang’e-5 probe to collect roughly four pounds (2 kilograms) of samples and bring them back to the Earth, Wu said.

“We are discussing and drawing up the plan for the fourth phase of the lunar exploration program, including missions to the polar regions of the Moon,” Wu added.

Research station

Next phase: sample return.
Credit: CCTV/Screengrab/Inside Outer Space

Some places at the south pole of the Moon receive sunlight for over 180 consecutive days, and some areas in craters there are never exposed to sunlight and might hold frozen water, scientists say.

“We hope to build a scientific research station in the south polar region of the Moon. It would be operated automatically and visited by people for short periods,” Wu envisioned.

According to Xinhua, a heavy-lift carrier rocket, with a takeoff weight of about 4,000 tons and a diameter of 10 meters, is a goal for 2030. It would help realize the aim of bringing Mars samples back to the Earth and sending Chinese astronauts to the Moon.

New videos

Zhang Hongbo, chief designer of Chang’e-4’s ground application system, explains Chang’e-4’s landing in the Von Karman Crater, located in the Aitken Basin, in the South Pole region on the far side of the Moon, on 3 January 2019, at 02:26 UTC (10:26 Beijing time).

Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)

The landing of the Chang’e-4 lunar mission seen from the onboard camera. Chang’e-4 (嫦娥四号) lander and the rover Yutu-2 (玉兔二号, Jade Rabbit-2) landed in the Von Karman Crater, located in the Aitken Basin, in the South Pole region on the far side of the Moon, on 3 January 2019, at 02:26 UTC (10:26 Beijing time).
Credit: China National Space Administration (CNSA)
Music: Lau Tzu Ehru by Doug Maxwell courtesy of YouTube Audio Library

Chang’e-4 lunar rover took panoramic photos of its landing site, the Von Karman Crater, located in the Aitken Basin, in the South Pole region on the far side of the Moon. Chang’e-4 (嫦娥四号) lunar mission, the lander and the rover Yutu-2 (玉兔二号, Jade Rabbit-2), landed in the crater on 3 January 2019, at 02:26 UTC (10:26 Beijing time). Communications with Earth are provided by the relay satellite Queqiao (鹊桥, Magpie Bridge).
Credit: China Central Television (CCTV)/China National Space Administration (CNSA)

Site-seeing

To explore more of the area around the Chang’e-4 landing site, go to LROC zoomify mode via:

http://lroc.sese.asu.edu/posts/1087

China National Space Administration (CNSA) has also released a video recording of the entire soft landing on the Moon’s farside by China’s Chang’e-4 probe.

Go to:

https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d774e7755544f31457a6333566d54/share_p.html

Also, go to this side by side video of the landings of Chang’e-3 (December 2013) and Chang’e-4 (January 3) by clicking image:

Chang’e-4 lander on Moon’s farside. Image taken by Yutu-2 rover. Credit: CNSA/CLEP

Image of China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover taken by Chang’e-4 lander.
Credit: CNSA/CLEP

Yutu-2 lunar rover, ready for exploration duties. Credit: CNSA/CLEP

 

 

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