Chang'e program

From Academic Kids

Chang'e (嫦娥工程 cháng é gōng chéng) is a program of unmanned missions to the Moon by China announced in 2003. The first spacecraft, Chang'e 1 (嫦娥一号 cháng é yī hào), is currently scheduled to be launched towards the end of 2007 [1] (http://www.cast.ac.cn/en/ShowArticle.asp?ArticleID=333), with further launches by 2010. The full program consists of lunar orbiters, lunar rovers and a soil return spacecraft.

Contents

Overview

The spacecraft will be 2350 kilograms in weight.

According to the plan, the program will go through three phases.

  1. Send a satellite to orbit the Moon
  2. Conduct exploration on the surface of the moon through the soft landing of a detector
  3. Collect the Moon surface samples using a robot, which will then return to the Earth.

According to the schedule, detailed program design of the first step will be completed before September 2004. Research and development of a prototype probe and relevant testing of the probe will be finished before the end of 2005. Design, manufacture, general assembly, test and ground experiments of the lunar probe satellite will be finished before December 2006. In 2007 the Chang'e 1 will blast off.

The Chang'e 1 satellite will carry 24 pieces of lunar probe equipment, including CCD three-dimensional cameras, microprobe instruments and a high-energy sun particle detector. According to the design, the satellite will weigh 2,350 kg, with a 130 kg of payload, and will orbit the moon for one year.

The rocket used to launch the spacecraft will be China's Long March 3A (长征三号甲 cháng zhēng sān hào jiǎ), which will launch Chang'e 1 from Xichang Satellite Launch Center (西昌卫星发射中心 xī chāng weì xīng fā shè zhōng xīn) in Sichuan Province (四川省 sì chuàn shĕng).

Currently, the second and third phases of the program are being planned. It is said that the second phase of the program would include the launch of a soft landing device in 2012, and the device will land on the moon together with a lunar vehicle to conduct an inspection of the moon's surface and probe the moon's resources. It would also provide data to determine the selection of a moon base.

Objectives

The first phase of the program has four major goals. They are as follows:

  1. Drawing "pictures" of the moon and obtaining three-dimensional images of the lunar surface. Dividing the basic landforms and structures of the lunar surface and initially making outline graphs of lunar geology and structures, so as to provide reference and bases for later soft landing. The flight of the Chang'e 1 lading. The flight of the Chang'e 1 around the moon will not only completely cover the entire moon, but also include parts of areas in the north and south poles, which have never been involved.
  2. Probing useful elements on the moon surface and analyzing the useful elements and materials, primarily making maps of the distribution of various elements on the moon's surface. China hopes to expand the number of the useful elements to 14, compared with the five kinds previously probed by the United States, and will conduct an overall prospect evaluation on some useful resources on the moon's surface.
  3. Probing the features of lunar soil and evaluating its depth, as well as the amount of helium-3 resources.
  4. Probing the space environment between 40,000 km and 400,000 km from the earth, recording the data of primitive solar wind and studying the impact of solar activity on the earth and the moon.

The first three of the four objectives are to aim at the moon itself, while the last one is to focus on the process of sending the Chang'e probe to the moon, which means exploring the plysical environment between the earth and the moon.

In addition, the lunar probe engineering system, composed of five major systems - the satellite system, the launch vehicle system, the launch site system, the monitoring and control system and the ground application system - will accomplish the following five goals:

  • Researching, developing and launching China's first lunar probe satellite
  • Initially mastering the basic probe technology of satellites in orbit
  • Conducting first lunar scientific exploration
  • Initially forming a lunar probe space engineering system
  • Accumulating experiences for the later lunar probe project

See also

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