The first Chinese lunar probe, Chang'e 1, successfully completed its mission when it impacted the moon's surface, Chinese media reports said.
"We set four major goals for this orbiting program," China Lunar Exploration Project scientist Ouyang Zhiyuan said. "Through all of our scientists' work, I think these goals were completed well. Some of the tasks were more than fulfilled."
After a successful launch in October 2007, Chinese space officials had the unmanned probe orbit the moon during the first part of its 16-month mission. Information that has been transmitted from the probe to researchers on Earth will be opened up to the public, according to researchers, as more than 100 researchers from 70 universities and 30 research institutes have been selected to help study the data.
The Chinese space program has had a number of successes over the years, with the government devoting a large number of resources and engineers to the project. In 2003, China launched its own manned mission, following in the footsteps of Russia and the United States. In 2008, China also had its first space walk, with Chinese government officials aiming to create its own space station and launch a manned mission to the moon.
With the first stage of its lunar mission completed, China hopes to launch the Chang'e-2 mission with a soft landing on the moon's surface.
The country now looks to launch the Tiangong-1 space module next year, and then have a manned shuttle dock with the orbiting research laboratory. Although it has shown interest in working alongside the United States, Japan, Russia, European Space Agency (ESA), and other partners on the International Space Station (ISS), China has not been allowed to assist in the ISS's development.
quote: Artist rendering of probe going towards moon