China posts hundreds of never-before-seen HD color photos of the moon

© China National Space Administration / The Science and Application Center for Moon and Deepspace Exploration / Emily Lakdawalla
In a previously unseen act of information generosity, China has shared hundreds of photos taken by its Chang’e-3 lunar rover – leaving the world stunned by the detail of the high-quality color images.

The China National Space Administration published images, videos and scientific data on its website, making them available to anyone who registers. 

China is the third nation after Russia and the US to land on the moon, and this was the first soft-landing on the Earth’s only natural satellite in 37 years – the previous one being Russia’s Luna 24 probe in 1976.

 

© China National Space Administration / The Science and Application Center for Moon and Deepspace Exploration / Emily Lakdawalla

The images were actually taken from 2013 to 2015 with cameras attached to the Chang’e-3 lander and the Yutu rover (meaning ‘Jade Rabbit’ in Chinese), which is no longer operational.

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Apart from taking these exceptionally detailed high-quality color images of the moon, the mission was also equipped with a telescope and instruments to perform geologic analysis of the lunar surface.

The research performed suggests that the moon’s surface may be less homogenous than originally thought. To find out more, the Chinese plan to send the Chang’e-5 spacecraft to collect more soil samples in 2017. 

© China National Space Administration / The Science and Application Center for Moon and Deepspace Exploration / Emily Lakdawalla

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Then in 2018, the ambitious Chang’e-4 mission may become the first in the world to land on the far side of the moon.

© China National Space Administration / The Science and Application Center for Moon and Deepspace Exploration / Emily Lakdawalla

© China National Space Administration / The Science and Application Center for Moon and Deepspace Exploration / Emily Lakdawalla