China’s Space Program Evolves: Golden Rover Land On The Moon

Lunar Rover China

Photo Courtesy Getty Images

In a November article by, it was stated that China’s lunar exploration program could mean a future of Chinese dominance over the moon’s resources. Now the Chinese have made another big step into space. On Saturday, they launched their first lunar rover, called Jade Rabbit. The rover landed on the moon successfully. The Jade Rabbit, called Yuta in Chinese, is a six-wheeled lunar rover equipped with at least four cameras and two mechanical legs that can dig up soil samples to a depth of 30 meters.

If resources are found, among them would be water and helium-3, a potential source of fuel for fusion energy. According to QZ, it was only a decade ago when China sent its first astronaut into space and since then has launched four more manned missions. By 2020, China plans to build a permanently staffed space station of its own.

For about three months, the solar-powered rover will mobilize around the moon’s surface, studying the structure of the lunar crust as well as soil and rocks. The robot’s name was decided by a public online poll and comes from a Chinese myth about the pet white rabbit of a goddess, Chang’e, who is said to live on the moon.

The Jade Rabbit weight in at 140 kilograms and carries an optical telescope for astronomical observations and a powerful ultraviolet camera that will monitor how solar activity affects the various layers — troposphere, stratosphere and ionosphere — that make up the Earth’s atmosphere, China’s information technology ministry said in a statement.

The Jade Rabbit is also equipped with radioisotope heater units, allowing it to function during the cold lunar nights when temperatures plunge as low as -180°C (-292°F).

No China joines the United States and the former Soviet Union in the first nations to “soft-land” on the moon’s surface.

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