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Back to the moon! Chinese mission Chang’e3 with Yutu rover – December 2013

Posted in astronomia by jumpjack on 11 dicembre 2013

After 37 years, man is going to the Moon, again.

But this time not physically, just “virtually”: China sent its “Chang’e III” probe carrying the Yutu rover.

Finding data on the mission on internet is quite difficult as most of them are in Chinese and Google translation are weird and confusing.

I collect here all data I was able to find in various place (forums, blogs, social networks). I do my best effort in publishing correct data.

  • Launch date: December 1st, 2013 – 17:30 UTC
  • Moon orbit insertion:  December 6th
  • Moon landing: confirmed  at 13:11:18.695 UTC

The landing site is at 19.51 deg. West, 44.12 deg. North, per reports from the control center, that is 20-30 km southeast of Laplace crater:

“Fake” but cool:  😉


Landing site slightly changed:

Chang'e3 - Lunokhod landing sites comparison

Chang’e3 – Lunokhod landing sites comparison

400 miles km separate Chang’e3 landing site from Russian Lunokhod landing site.

First surface image:

Landing replay:

  • Rover deployment: planned for 20:38 December 14th UTC successfully performed
    • 23:45: deployment feasibility checks.
    • 03:10: rover moves to descending ramp
    • 04:06 rover on descending ramp; ramp unlocked and fully nominal; ramp deployed.
    • 4:35 rover descends the ramp; “6 wheel son ground”. “Huston, Mare Imbrium base here, the rabbit has jumped”. 😉
  • Thanks to the HUGE patience of Emily Lakdawalla here it is an almost-complete deployment footage!


Low res thumbnail.  Click on link below for 16 MB animated gif, or look at Youtube version:


English: http://youtu.be/ziakx2_Ird0
Italian: http://www.youreporter.it/video_Sbarco_del_rover_cinese_Yutu_dalla_sonda_Chang_e3_sulla_Luna

  • Reciprocal lander/rover snapshots: planned 07:21-15:38 December 15th UTC Successfully performed:




  • Landing will be performed autonomously without ground support, by using radar sensors and visual sensors.
  • Descent will be shot by a 1024×1024 camera at over 10 FPS.
  • At 4 m above surface, engine will be shut down and landing will be performed in free fall; expected maximum vertical speed around 13 km/h.
  • Rover deployment operations will take took  around 2 hours.
  • Rover carries both solar panels and nuclear heaters: the first to provide electricity, the second to keep instruments warm during 2-weeks-long Moon night.

Nect activities on schedule (sorry, no translations available):


Launch footage:








Points of interest in the footage (in Italian):

  • 02:56 Distacco booster laterali
  • 03:10 Distacco primo stadio
  • 03:58 Passaggio a telecamera interna
  • 04:50 Passaggio a seconda telecamera interna
  • 06:15 Distacco secondo stadio, accensione terzo
  • 19:36 Distacco lander, in rotta verso la Luna
  • 1:04:00 Inizio animazione 3d
  • 1:08:27 Panoramica Control Room
  • 1:12:00 Dispiegamento zampe
  • 1:16:20 Dispiegamento pannelli solari


http://www.spaceflight101.com/change-3-mission-updates.html (site)

http://www.unmannedspaceflight.com/index.php?showtopic=3105&st=315  (forum)

http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2013/12060741-change-3-has-arrived-at-the-moon.html (blog)

http://bbs.9ifly.cn/thread-11199-1-1.html (Chinese forum, plenty of info;use Chrome for automated translation)

http://www.weibo.com/3494982177/AmEaViSd5?mod=weibotime  (Chinese “twitter”)  (also http://www.weibo.com/zkyzs)

https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ChangE3&src=hash  (English twitter)

http://blogs.esa.int/rocketscience/2013/12/11/esas-new-norcia-station-to-support-moon-landing/  (ESA blog)

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/special/change3/ (news)

https://twitter.com/GuangLin_Galaxy (Twitter)

http://lunarnetworks.blogspot.ca/2013/12/quick-glance-at-change-3-sinus-iridum.html (english blog)
http://astronomiapraticapertutti.blogspot.it/ (Italian blog)

Chang E II lunar Rainbow Bay local image maps http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_4596431_1.html
China canceled manned lunar program http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_7006575_1.html
Landing failure prediction    http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_7007285_1.html
New electric propulsion engine   http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_7011243_1.html
Nuclear devices on Chang’e 3   http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_6987138_1.html
“Black 750 seconds”   http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_7012426_1.html
“Moon race”   http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_7003966_1.html
Redirecting Chang’e 2 to Mars?   http://bbs.tiexue.net/post_7004959_1.html
Chang E II lunar satellite has 32G terrestrial transmission of scientific data   http://club.china.com/data/thread/12171906/2718/69/65/5_1.html

Tech data:

Descent phases:

Comparison between Apollo descent module and Chang'e 3 descent module, with human body reference

Comparison between Apollo descent module and Chang’e 3 descent module, with human body reference

Chang'e3 lander size and dimensions

Chang’e3 lander size and dimensions

Chang'e3 lander size

Chang’e3 lander size

Comparison to Mars rovers:



Spirit/Opportunity dimensions:

  • Height = 1.5 meters
  • Width = 2.3 meters
  • Length = 1.5 meters
  • Weight = 1062 kg



Landing site (Sinus Iridium, see white arrow):


Chinese name: 嫦娥三号  (Chang’e 3 or Chang’e III)

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  1. […] riportato in dettaglio in altro post, il 14 dicembre 2013 la sonda cinese Chang’e 3 è atterrata con successo sulla Luna, […]

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