- Posted December 14, 2013 by
China's Lunar Mission
China's lunar probe Chang'e-3 is scheduled to make an attempt to soft-land on themoon on Saturday night, according to sources in charge of the mission.
The entire process of soft-landing will last 12 minutes and it will beperformed by the probe itself, with "practically zero" chance of manualintervention being required, said the sources on Saturday, adding thatthe Chang'e-3 mission has so far proceeded as planned.
The probe will start decelerating from 15 km above the lunar surfaceuntil its relative speed is reduced from 1.7 km/s to nil. It will staysuspended at 100 meters above the moon to assess the landing areain order to avoid obstacles and locate the final landing spot.
Chang'e-3 will land in Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, a lunar area that remains unstudiedand should enable smooth communication and ample sunshine with its level terrain.
However, the sources noted that unknown features such as lunar rocks, pits and entrenchmentsmight still influence the outcome of the landing.
If landing is successful, moon rover "Yutu" will leave the lander for mobile exploration while thelander will conduct surveying from its fixed position.
China launched the Chang'e-3 lunar probe with the country's first moon rover onboard onDecember 2, marking a significant step toward deep space exploration.