The Chinese lander Chang’e 4 on the farside of the moon spotted by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s LROC camera.
NASA; Chang’e 4, the second Chinese lunar lander, set down on a relatively small farside mare basalt deposit that is extensively mixed with highland ejecta from the nearby and relatively young Finsen crater (73 kilometer or 45 mile diameter). Scientists have long wanted to know the composition of farside basalts; are they significantly different from the nearside basalts? According to the China National Space Administration, Chang’e 4 instrumentation includes the visible near infrared spectrometer (VNIS) which takes measurements that can be used to address this question. This new information from the surface will provide important ground truth, while the combination of on-surface and orbital measurements provides synergy that will advance knowledge of the farside.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University.
Mark Robinson Arizona State University
Nancy Neal Jones
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter took a before and after image of the area where China set down the rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit). The before and after shots are what you see above.
The distance from camera to rover is about 150 km / 93 miles. The rover itself is only 150 cm / 5 feet. Apparently the reason it shows up, because the pixel size in the image is also 150 cm, is the solar panels reflect light efficiently and the shadow is evident. NASA tells all about the image below.
Hopefully we will get to see if the rover moves about in the future.
Chang’e 3 landed on Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains) just east of a 450 m diameter impact crater on 14 December 2013. Soon after landing, a small rover named Yutu (or Jade Rabbit in English) was deployed and took its first tentative drive onto the airless regolith. At the time of the landing LRO’s orbit was far from the landing site so images of the landing were not possible. Ten days later on 24 December, LRO approached the landing site, and LROC was able to acquire a series of six LROC Narrow Angle Camera ( NAC ) image pairs during the next 36 hours (19 orbits). The highest resolution image was possible when LRO was nearly overhead on 25 December 03:52:49 UT (24 December 22:52:49 EST). At this time LRO was at an altitude of ~150 km above the site, and the pixel size was 150 cm. Continue reading →