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Moon landing mission to use 'secret weapons'

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-04 22:39

BEIJING - Multiple "secret weapons" will be used on China's Chang'e-3 lunar probe, scheduled to launch at the end of this year for a moon landing mission, a key scientist said on Wednesday.

The mission will see a Chinese orbiter soft-land on a celestial body for the first time.

In addition to several cameras, Chang'e-3 will carry a near-ultraviolet astronomical telescope to observe stars, the galaxy and the universe from the moon, said Ouyang Ziyuan, a senior advisor to China's lunar program.

The telescope will observe the universe "farther and clearer" and will possibly bring new discoveries since there will be no disturbance from the aerosphere, ionosphere and magnetosphere on the moon, offering views free from interference from human activity, pollution and the magnetic field, said Ouyang.

He said at the First Beijing International Forum on Lunar and Deep-space Exploration held on September 3-6 that the lander also carries an extreme ultraviolet camera, which will be used on the moon for the first time to monitor the transformation of the earth's plasmasphere and the planet's environmental change.

The Chang'e-3 moon rover will roam the moon's surface to patrol and explore the satellite.

Radar will be attached to the bottom of the rover to explore 100 to 200 meters beneath the moon's surface, which is unprecedented, said Ouyang.

Chang'e-3 has officially entered its launch stage, following research and manufacturing periods. It will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China.

"The Chang'e-3 mission makes use of a plethora of innovative technologies. It is an extremely difficult mission that carries great risk," Ma Xingrui, head of China's space exploration body and chief commander of the lunar program, said last month.

The Chang'e-3 mission is the second phase of China's lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth. It follows the successes of the Chang'e-2 missions, which include plotting a  high-resolution, full-coverage lunar map.

Chang'e-3's carrier rocket has successfully gone through its first test, while the launch pad, control and ground application systems are ready for the mission.

China's deep-space exploration should go beyond the moon, and the country's scientists are actively preparing to implement plans to explore Mars, Venus and asteroids, said Ye Peijian, chief scientist of the Chang'e-3 program.

"Scientists are always prepared to conduct deep-space exploration and will do it after conditions permit," said Ye.

Ouyang said the scientific goals of solar system exploration include searching for extraterrestrial life; deepening understanding of Earth by exploring Mars, Venus and Jupiter; investigating the impact on Earth caused by solar activity and asteroid strikes; searching for new energies and resources; and preparing for mankind's future development.

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