All scientific instruments onboard China's Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter have begun operating, except the CCD camera. A full exploration of the Moon can now begin.
The Chang'e 2 project shares similar goals with Chang'e 1: Obtaining three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, analyzing and mapping the chemical elements on the lunar surface, and probing the features of the lunar soil and the space environment near the Moon will all be undertaken.
But Chang'e 2 will stop just 100 kilomters from the Moon and move at a faster speed. This means that the data obtained will be more accurate.
"Higher resolution helps us better study the Moon's geology and topography," said Zhang Xiaohui, Chief Designer of Payload of Chang'e 2 Satellite.
Chang'e 1, the first Chinese unmanned lunar-orbiting spacecraft was launched three years ago.
"Chang'e 1 marked the beginning of China's effort to study outer space," said Ouyang Ziyuan, Senior Consultant to Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. "It not only helps us better know the moon, but also demonstrates that China is able to conduct planet probing."
Chang'e 1 probe made exceptional achievements.
Data gathered by the satellite was able to produce the most accurate and highest resolution 3-D map ever created of the lunar surface.
According to China National Space Administration, the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program will go through three phases: orbital mission, soft landing, and automated sample return. Both Chang'e 1 and Chang'e 2 are part of the first phase.
Experts say they expect to realize a soft landing around 2013. Moon rovers will be deployed for surface exploration by then.
And all these efforts are aimed at a manned lunar landing in the future.
(CNTV.cn October 17, 2010)