China Finally Releases Images From Lunar Mission, And They’re Breathtaking (PHOTOS)
China’s Lunar Lander Chang’e-3 and “Jade Rabbit” Rover Are quite the photographers… Armstrong must be nostalgic
In July of 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped onto the Moon and recited “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” Fast-forward to 2016—China has given us a glimpse of the Moon like we’ve never seen before. Looking at it, one can only imagine what it must have been like for Armstrong 47 years ago.
Chang’e-3, China’s lunar lander, has sent back thousands of high-definition, true color images of the moon’s surface. It’s the first time we’ve seen the moon in such glorious detail—and boy is it pretty. Most of the images were captured in late 2013 but the China National Space Administration took some time before releasing them to the public.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) February 3, 2016
China’s Lunar Ambitions don’t just stop with some pretty pictures, they’re looking for a deeper understanding of the moon’s dark side.
China’s interest in the moon doesn’t stop with these images. They are planning on sending a probe to the dark side of the moon in late 2017 or early 2018. The mission is aimed at studying the geological structure of the moon’s dark side. According to Telegraph.co:
“That could eventually lead to the placement of a radio telescope for use by astronomers. Radio transmissions from Earth are unable to reach the moon’s far side, making it an excellent location for sensitive instruments.”
China has consistently asserted that their desire to develop world-class space exploration technologies is purely for the purpose of discovery, but the US Department of Defense isn’t so sure…and hasn’t been since China started focusing on their space program in the early part of the decade. A 2013 Pentagon report on China’s military capabilities and the CNSA’s exponential growth essentially claims that the Asian powerhouse is interested in:
“The necessity of ‘destroying, damaging and interfering with the enemy’s reconnaissance…and communications satellites,’ suggesting that such systems, as well as navigation and early warning satellites, could be among the targets of attacks designed to “blind and deafen the enemy.””
It’s possible… maybe China is plotting to take over the world. Or maybe they’re just trying to cover their bums like every other industrial powerhouse does with their space program (NASA, European Space Agency, Roscosmos etc.). And so when Princeton University Science and Global Security Postdoctoral Research Associate Mark Gubrud was asked about all this defense talk, he had this to say:
“[T]he report documents China’s increasing reliance on military and civilian space systems. This would seem to give the Chinese an interest comparable to U.S. interests in the survivability and resilience of space resources.”
So only time will tell… but in the meantime, these images that CNSA’s Jade Rabbit took are absolutely stunning. Not to mention, thinking about a rover driving around the dark side of the moon must be making David Gilmore and the rest of Pink Floyd pretty happy.
Photo by jrperes via Pixabay.
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