A bold new mission to the Moon was launched today by the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA). Change-1 blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, Sichuan, atop a Long March 3A rocket.
Change-1 represents the first step in the Chinese ambition to land robotic explorers on the Moon before 2020.
Change-1 has four mission goals to accomplish. The first is to make three-dimensional images of many lunar landforms and outline maps of major lunar geological structures. This mapping will include the first detailed images taken of some regions near the lunar poles.
Change-1 is also designed to analyze the abundance of up to 14 chemical elements and their distribution across the lunar surface. Thirdly it will measure the depth of the lunar soil and lastly it will explore the space weather between the Earth and the Moon.
The spacecraft is large, weighing in at 2350 kg and it will operate from a low, circular lunar orbit, just 200 km above the surface of the Moon. From here, it will perform its science mission for a full year.
ESA is collaborating with the Chinese on this mission by providing spacecraft and ground operations support services to CNSA. The two agencies will also share data and encourage a visitors programme so that researchers can learn from each other.
During ESAs SMART-1 mission, the Agency provided the Chinese with details of the spacecraft's position and transmission frequencies, so that the Chinese could test their tracking stations and ground operations by following it. This was part of their preparation for Change-1. Now it is time for Change-1 itself to fly.
Hermann Opgenoorth, Head of ESAs Solar System Missions Division says, Participation in Change-1 gives European scientists and ESA experts a welcome opportunity to maintain and pass on their expertise and to continue their scientific work. Based on the experience gained with this first mission, we intended to coope
|Contact: Detlef Koschny|
European Space Agency