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  (Source: China News)
The first of its kind in nearly four decades, the rover is now exploring the sandy basalt crater-plane by day

Welcome to the history books.

China on Saturday became only the third nation (after the U.S. and Russia) to accomplish a soft-landing on the moon, which is no simple task.

In order to coax the moon probe into a gentle landing, the Chinese lander was equipped with state-of-the-art mini rockets, which allowed it to gently hover above the lunar surface.  This allowed it to avoid small boulders and large rocks that littered parts of its Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows) landing site.

Landing occured at around 1:11 p.m. UTC/GMT, 8:11 a.m. EST.

China Chang'e 3 hover
Chang'e 3 used its hovering jets to touch down softly on Saturday. [Image Source: News.cn]

Using its high-resolution imaging and hovering capabilities, the craft safely touched down in the Bay of Rainbows, a basalt sand/rock crater plane in the Lunar north.  After landing safely, the Yutu ("Jade Rabbit") rover climbed off the Chang'e 3 spacecraft without issue on Saturday, snapping pictures.


Chang'e 3 is named after a Lunar goddess of Chinese lore.

Chang'e 3 landed
Chang'e 3, post-landing. [Image Source: News.cn]

The Yutu rover stands 150 cm tall (roughly 5 feet, or just slightly shorter than the height of an average human), and features a six-wheel independent bogie-style suspension, similar to the rovers that the U.S.National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) used to rove the moon in decades past. It has been nearly four decades since the U.S. and Russia last roamed the moon. 

Yutu rolls off the ramp
The Yutu rover rolls off the ramp. [Image Source: Weibo]

China Yutu shot
A picture of the offloaded rover is snapped by Chang'e 3 [Image Source: CCTV]

China's first and second Lunar probes provided mankind with unprecedented map of the Lunar surface.  Over the next few months Yutu will add yet more insight, "tasting" the chemicals in Lunar rock and exploring the Lunar dirt/crust with ground-penetrating radar. 

Lunar soil
The Lunar soil, as seen by Yutu [Image Source: Weibo]

The lander is powered by a radioisotope heater, while the rover is powered by a solar panel.  Both will only operate by day to safeguard their sensitive electronics from the chilling northern Lunar night.

Jade Rabbit
An artist's diagram depicts Yutu ("Jade Rabbit"), China's Lunar rover. [Image Source: AFP]

These studies will provide unprecedented insight into the Lunar crust.

Yutu
A toy model of the rover. [Image Source: ECNS.cn]

China plans to follow up on the success with another similar probe (Chang'e 4 2015/2016), followed by a more advanced variant in 2017, Chang'e 5, which will feature a detachable return module, which will redock with the orbiter and rocket back to Earth with > 2 kg (~4.4 lb.) of rock samples on board.

The Asian giant's goal is to eventually have a manned Lunar mission (likely next decade) followed by a Taikonaut Lunar colony.  The U.S. has essentially surrendered in this race, saying that it's likely unable to match China in its return to the Moon.

It should be noted that China isn't doing this effort without a bit of help.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is assisting the China National Space Administration (CNSA) with sending signals to Chang'e 3/Yutu via a station in Frech Guiana that provided telemetry data on the probe during its flight to the moon.

The U.S. and China have satellites in orbit, however, these receivers broadcast at too low a signal strength to reach a Lunar lander.  To send such a signal high-power ground based dish-style transmitters are necessary.  Most of the control of the rover and lander will be carried out via Chinese satellite stations.  However, as the Earth is constantly spinning, China relied on its partner, the ESA, to provide it with telemetry data during the flight to the Moon, and will likely use the ESA as a backup for Lunar communication with the lander/rover in the case of emergency.


KourouThe Kourou in French Guiana tracking station helped track Chang'e 3 during liftoff, providing the CNSA with telemetry data. [Image Source: ESA]

The Parkes Observatory in Australia offered similar capabilities to the U.S. during the Apollo program, which remains the only successful international effort to land humans on the Moon (although China may soon change that).

Sources: AFP on Google News, Telegraph [video]



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good for them!
By kattanna on 12/16/2013 1:31:43 PM , Rating: 5
good for them!

hopefully more and more countries will follow.




RE: good for them!
By Ammohunt on 12/16/13, Rating: -1
RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/16/2013 1:50:44 PM , Rating: 2
Why not echo the sentiment? Unlike NK's "satellite launch" testing, a moon landing doesn't really lend itself to weaponization. Space exploration is good for humanity.

Also, China isn't communist.


RE: good for them!
By prophet001 on 12/16/2013 2:25:20 PM , Rating: 1
"Also, China isn't communist."

lol

Are you going to give us one of those pseudo intellectual arguments about the nuances of the word "Communist"?


RE: good for them!
By spamreader1 on 12/16/2013 2:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
Socialist, Communist, everything's made there either way.


RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/16/2013 4:35:03 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Are you going to give us one of those pseudo intellectual arguments
No, but feel free to tell me where you disagree with me if you think I'm wrong.


RE: good for them!
By OnyxNite on 12/17/2013 2:34:51 PM , Rating: 1
You're wrong because you are apparently going by a pseudo intellectual argument probably put forward to you by some liberal professor of what they think Communism should mean or even what the word ORIGINALLY meant when it was first coined. That however is a pointless academic discussion and the word in common use has come to mean (as many words meanings have changed over time) a government in which a single political party (Often called the Communist Party) rules such as the former Soviet Union and mainland China.


RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/17/2013 4:30:02 PM , Rating: 1
The best thing about making up your own definitions for words is tat you'll never be wrong! Good luck with that...


RE: good for them!
By Dorkyman on 12/16/2013 3:07:18 PM , Rating: 2
Not Communist, eh?

Hmmm... You lost me there, pal.


RE: good for them!
By BSMonitor on 12/16/2013 3:40:11 PM , Rating: 2
Define Communist. Me thinks you have no idea what it really means for a nation to be Communist.

No major power in the world truly employs the Marxist definition of communism. Free markets are everywhere in China as well as private wealth and power. What China is, is a State where the Communist party has seized hold of the central government / military and hence decides when the state "owns" private property (at a whim). It's more like a monarchy of single political party.


RE: good for them!
By JasonMick (blog) on 12/16/2013 5:15:35 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Define Communist. Me thinks you have no idea what it really means for a nation to be Communist.

No major power in the world truly employs the Marxist definition of communism. Free markets are everywhere in China as well as private wealth and power. What China is, is a State where the Communist party has seized hold of the central government / military and hence decides when the state "owns" private property (at a whim). It's more like a monarchy of single political party.
I think he meant in terms of Marxist philosophy.

The important thing to remember is this:

nationalism != communism

The key difference is that nationalism puts the nation above all else, including collective prosperity (as is not necessary opposed to promoting plutocracy, if plutocrats are advancing national dominance). Communism puts a minimum standard of living above all else, including national ambitions. It is antithetical to plutocracy.

In that regard, Russian/Chinese "communists" were essentially MINOs -- Marxists in name only (sorta like RINOs ^_* ).

Their actions and legacy proved that if any of them truly believed in communism, they were in the minority. Or perhaps they were in the majority, but communism proved infeasible (as a central tenant of Marxism was industrialization reaching a central of Marxism was technology reaching a point where a minimum standard of living was ensured, even if people were relatively lazy, as is human nature). As technology wasn't there to allow that standard of living, true communists may have became nationalists out of a lust for staying in power and a degree of realism on the state of automation. Probably both are true.

But anyhow, Marxism and nationalism appear fairly dimmetrically opposed (philosophically) speaking. Russia/China may have been founded somewhat on an idealist fantasy of attaining Marxism, but they ultimately collapsed into nationalism reality, in effect installing a system Marx viewed as only a marginal improvement over the alternatives (slavery or feudalism).

In China today, much of the population works for money to survive as manufacturing. While less backbreaking that serving as an agricultural slave or serf (as pointed out by Marx), working as a sweatshop worker for capitalists, is actually what Marxism arose in reaction to (as at the time Europe's industrial revolution's cost was the creation of effectively sweatshops akin to Chinese factories today, in the sense that they were better working conditions than pre-industrial field labor, but still not great).

In other words, Karl Marx's writings directly opposed capitalist nationalist "sweatshop states" like China today.

The Chinese revolutionaries deposed what was basically a feudal system, claiming they were realizing Marx's vision. In reality Marx only wrote of feudalism in a historic sense and his work was designed to oppose the kind of government that the Chinese instituted.

1. Everyone will enjoy some base standard of living.

2. Machinery (i.e. robots) will minimize manufacturing, design, and menial service tasks for mankind.

3. Mankind will tap new resources like space flight and fusion to allow cheap energy and vast supplies of mineral resources.

4. As 1-3 come true money will fade in importance, and a meritocracy will be possible.

Of course 2 has only been partially realized. Manufacturing today is machine-assisted, but is still done by man. Until that changes, my opinion is that communism is impossible. When it does change (and it will) I believe then (and ONLY THEN) the communism Marx envisioned may be possible for a capitalist nation to evolve toward.

Abridged version:

-------------------

1. Marxist communism != nationalism

-------------------

2. Communism was invented by a man living in a capitalist society and arguably is only possible by first advancing through a phase of free capitalism.

-------------------

3. The U.S. started as a free state, but ultimately advanced towards a state of mixed nationalism/capitalism, in which the government controls some services and manipulates the market to promote certain products. This isn't all that different from how things work in China.

-------------------

4. China's gov't structure:
___i. One ruling party
___ii. Moderately free capitalism
___iii. Large national government
___iv. Internally divided
___v. Largely operates to serve large special interests
___vi. Special interests, in turn support perpetuation of ruling party
___vii. Special interests own the government, in effect
___viii. National government owns the media directly.
___ix. People elect Congresspeople
___x. Congress elects a prime minister and other higher national officials
___xi. Delegation of lesser powers to local/state governments
___xii. China was founded by revolutionaries who claimed collectivism, hence China and its courts do sometimes attempt to preserve the appearance of socialist safety nets, even if such (collectivist) protections erode at times.
___xiii. China has been only recently industrialized, hence its average standard of living is lower, governance aside.

-------------------

5. U.S. gov't parties
___i. Two ruling parties that disagree on minor issues and fractions in budgets, but agree/collude effectively as a single on central governing philosophy (as seen in defense spending, etc.)
___ii. Moderately free capitalism
___iii. Large national government
___iv. Externally divided
___v. Largely operates to serve large special interests
___vi. Special interests, in turn support perpetuation of ruling part(ies)
___vii. Special interests own the government, in effect
___viii. Special interests own the media directly.
___ix. People elect Congresspeople and electors
___x. Electors appoint a President, President and Congress appoint other higher national officials
___xi. Delegation of lesser powers to local/state governments
___xii. The U.S. was founded by revolutionaries who claimed individualism (via the Constitution), hence the U.S. and its courts do sometimes attempt to preserve the appearance of civil liberty, even if such (Constitutional) protections erode at times.
___xiii. The U.S. is a mature industrial economy, free to exploit (or leverage?) emerging economies, hence its average standard of living is somewhat higher, governance aside.

-------------------

6. U.S. and China are similar (U.S. arguably has a more activist court system and more institutionalized civil rights, but arguably is otherwise similar). Both act as quasi-capitalist nationalist/plutocratic branded republics.

-------------------

7. China is not communist, other than in a token/historical sense.

-------------------

8. 130 years after the death of Marx, we still lack the technology necessary to make his vision of a utopian society possible.

-------------------

9. Until robots phase out all menial labor/manufacturing jobs, the majority will be occupied in these positions.

-------------------

10. Once robotics advances enough, society will be free to enter a new era where "wealth" is redistributed organically, as collectively owned robotic services will be able to do anything unpleasant/difficult, leaving mankind to stratify into a meritocracy/technocracy similar to "Marxist" thought.

-------------------

11. In such a society people will contribute based on their abilities/work-ethic, but will be guaranteed some basic standard of living even if they sit on their butt.

-------------------

12. Society will eventually adjust to this new reality.


RE: good for them!
By Ammohunt on 12/16/13, Rating: 0
RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/16/2013 6:30:21 PM , Rating: 2
China is a lot more like a dog wearing a sign that says "I'm a duck". Nobody paying attention sees a duck.

Labeling your enemies as evil has always been an important propaganda tool, though. Your posts make more sense in the context of your belief in a coming global war. It'd be interesting to hear the reasoning behind that belief.


RE: good for them!
By rountad on 12/17/2013 11:20:15 AM , Rating: 2
While the individual Chinese I've met seem nice enough, I'd consider their government enemies due to things like their repression and censorship.


RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/17/2013 1:34:48 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed on both. I was making the point that calling them Communists was silly. I strongly disagree with a lot of their governmental policies!


RE: good for them!
By wordsworm on 12/16/2013 10:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
Mao is dead. He's been dead for awhile now. China's got a huge capitalist movement going on. Don't confuse capitalism with communism, please.


RE: good for them!
By Ammohunt on 12/17/2013 10:25:13 AM , Rating: 1
Do you think it was coincidence that that Jade Rabbit landed on the moon while it was full? I am sorry that our education system has failed you. Communism is alive and well in china


RE: good for them!
By ClownPuncher on 12/17/2013 11:16:26 AM , Rating: 2
No it isn't. Admit you were wrong and get some education yourself.


RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/17/2013 1:49:50 PM , Rating: 2
So, the American moon landings in the 60's were a communist plot? They were certainly played up for propaganda value... Scientific achievements can be played up for propaganda value just like any other achievement. That doesn't make it not a scientific achievement (and it certainly isn't proof of Communism...).

I'm curious, why labeling them as Communists so important to you. I strongly disagree with a lot of the Chinese gov. policies, but I don't see the point in affixing, incorrect Cold War labels to their gov. type.


RE: good for them!
By Divide Overflow on 12/17/2013 7:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
Why? It's certainly one they self identify with.


RE: good for them!
By Solandri on 12/17/2013 8:44:50 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Do you think it was coincidence that that Jade Rabbit landed on the moon while it was full?

It's worth pointing out that most moon landings will happen some time around the first quarter to the full moon.

- During a new moon, the moon is directly overhead at noon. The presence of the sun can interfere with radio communications.

- During a full moon, the moon is directly overhead at midnight.

- During the first quarter, the moon is directly overhead at sunset. This is the most convenient time to conduct a moon landing. If you plan for the landing to happen in the afternoon or evening, your mission control center has direct line of sight communications. Your staff has had the entire day to prep and fix any problems. And everyone is reasonably awake and alert.

The Chinese moon landing happened 5 days after the first quarter (3 days before full moon), at 9pm local time when the moon was almost directly over China. Most of the Apollo landings and fly-bys were around the first quarter. Apollo 11 landed 2 days before the first quarter at 3pm, when the moon was directly over Florida. Most of the Apollo landings and flybys also happened in or near the time block between the first quarter and full moon. It is simple geometry and logistics which makes this happen, not a communist conspiracy.


RE: good for them!
By Schrag4 on 12/18/2013 12:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
I think describing China as communist is like a conservative describing a libertarian as liberal. Similarly, describing China as capitalist is like a liberal describing a libertarian as conservative. China's economy is very capitalist, perhaps even more so than in the US (due to lack of regulations), but the way that the people and the govt interact is very socialist, with some communist elements.

Just my 0.02


RE: good for them!
By wordsworm on 12/19/2013 7:26:21 PM , Rating: 2
Most countries have communistic leanings. At least, the good ones believe in socialist police, public schools, roadworks, etc.


RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/16/2013 6:04:57 PM , Rating: 2
Pretty much agree with the exception that I don't have quite as much faith in humanity. Specifically, I think there's no guarantee that minimizing labor will lead to a positive outcome for society. How our societies handle the reduction in need for labor will determine whether it's positive or negative.


RE: good for them!
By inperfectdarkness on 12/17/2013 3:33:38 AM , Rating: 3
TLDR.

What I can emphatically state is that--as of late--China has exhibited behavior very much like a totalitarian regime. The military appears to reign supreme. Public health/welfare is of small concern (if any). Political prisoners abound (more than a few stories about organ harvesting from LIVE political prisoners).

So I guess if we are talking pure Miriam-Webster semantics...then yes, China isn't exactly "communist". Instead of "from each to each according to his needs", China believes "from each to the party according to its whims".

Actually...that's pretty much how all communism pans out. So how is China NOT communist?


RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/19/2013 11:42:00 AM , Rating: 2
You defined how they aren't Communist and then posed the question "how is China not Communist?" I don't get what you are saying.


RE: good for them!
By JediJeb on 12/17/2013 10:11:07 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
I think he meant in terms of Marxist philosophy.


In short Jason,

Marxism = United Federation of Planets

US = Ferengi

China/Russia = Romulan Empire

Middle East/Africa = Klingon Empire


RE: good for them!
By gamerk2 on 12/17/2013 2:28:44 PM , Rating: 2
Not a bad analogy actually.

China is essentially a one party dictatorship with a Socialist economy.

The US is essentially a two party dictatorship with a Socialist economy.

/thread


RE: good for them!
By Spuke on 12/17/2013 3:24:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but will be guaranteed some basic standard of living even if they sit on their butt.
Sitting on my butt on 3,000 acres in Colorado is exactly what I'll be doing if this ever happens.


RE: good for them!
By Jeffk464 on 12/17/2013 10:39:21 PM , Rating: 2
Jason, never heard the brake down between the US and China analyzed quite this way before. Thumbs up from what I understand, the future automation seems a lot like what they talk about in the zeitgeist movies.


RE: good for them!
By Reclaimer77 on 12/17/2013 10:26:36 AM , Rating: 2
China is Communist.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/02/w...

There's no such thing as monarchy by parties, by the way.


RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/16/2013 4:35:39 PM , Rating: 2
That's not surprising.


RE: good for them!
By 91TTZ on 12/16/2013 3:48:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Also, China isn't communist.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China

The PRC is a single-party state governed by the Communist Party, with its seat of government in the capital city of Beijing.

The People's Republic of China is one of the world's few remaining socialist states openly endorsing communism.


RE: good for them!
By ClownPuncher on 12/16/2013 4:05:01 PM , Rating: 3
Free market communism with zero dictatorship of the proletariat? Hell, the proletariat is more feudal than having any sort of power. Yea, that makes no sense. They aren't communists. They are a socialist republic with a mixed economy.


RE: good for them!
By nafhan on 12/16/2013 4:47:00 PM , Rating: 4
Well... if we're going to quote the first few words of Wikipedia articles:
quote:
Communism (from Latin communis – common, universal) is a socialist movement to create a classless, moneyless, and stateless social order structured upon common ownership of the means of production, as well as a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of this social order.
That doesn't sound like China very much.


RE: good for them!
By LoPang on 12/17/2013 11:18:55 PM , Rating: 1
still living in the 90s I see.


Typical...
By Newspapercrane on 12/16/2013 1:46:59 PM , Rating: 4
It lands on the moon and immediately starts taking selfies.




RE: Typical...
By JediJeb on 12/16/2013 2:46:00 PM , Rating: 3
At least it isn't at a funeral.


RE: Typical...
Mixed Emotions
By L1011 on 12/16/2013 5:32:56 PM , Rating: 2
As a space enthusiast, I welcome this and hope that it compels the US to invest more money into space exploration.

Buuuut, the cynic in me cannot help but wonder how much of our intellectual property they stole to undertake this mission, and what are China's "real" intentions with the moon.




RE: Mixed Emotions
By PaFromFL on 12/17/2013 8:31:13 AM , Rating: 2
Either way, a little competition is good for everyone if it stimulates research spending. Technology (and arguably civilization) rapidly advanced because of WWII and would have just as rapidly stagnated if not for the cold war and space race. A new space race (or less desirable cold war) might result in space colonies. Right now we have all our eggs in one basket that could be destroyed by a virus or crushed by global tyranny (more byproducts of advancing technologies).


RE: Mixed Emotions
By Divide Overflow on 12/17/2013 7:01:31 PM , Rating: 2
Sadly, the current administration is far more interested in raising debt ceilings, borrowing money from China and implementing socialized medicine than invest money in space exploration.


FAKE!
By nafhan on 12/16/2013 1:47:17 PM , Rating: 2
Just kidding :)

This is great, and I hope it pushes the EU, the USA, and the rest of the world to put more effort into their space programs.




RE: FAKE!
By tng on 12/16/2013 2:46:40 PM , Rating: 2
"You can see by the shadows that..."

Can't wait for those people to pop out of the woodwork.


Who Took the 2nd Picture, Above?
By DaveLessnau on 12/16/2013 7:40:37 PM , Rating: 2
I guess I don't understand the 2nd picture in the article. It's got the caption:

"Chang'e 3 used its hovering jets to touch down softly on Saturday. [Image Source: News.cn]"

under it. To me, the implication is that this is an actual picture and not an artist's rendition. Yet, their appears to be dust being stirred up below the lander, so I'd assume it's just about to touch down. Who (or what) took that picture? Neil Armstrong? Moon men? Martians? Did they drop a camera down before hand?

There's a bit of curvature to the horizon in that picture, so maybe it's higher than I think. Maybe it's a photo of the lander from whatever it separated from? If so, what's the dust about?




RE: Who Took the 2nd Picture, Above?
By JediJeb on 12/17/2013 10:15:57 AM , Rating: 2
Compare the 4th picture to the 2nd and you can clearly tell the 2nd is a 3d artist rendering. Just the look of the dust shows that.


200 m/hr
By Souka on 12/17/2013 5:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
200 meters per hour = 0.1242742384 miles per hour

so in a day, at full speed, it can cover almost 3 miles.

Not bad :)




Uh huh
By wedontnotnoOnnNn on 12/20/2013 11:02:22 AM , Rating: 2
I love jesus because he saved me from the evil monsters he fed me his blood it was tastly




Now Watch the Moon Get Cancer...
By Arsynic on 12/16/13, Rating: -1
"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen














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