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Scientist: Lunar probe to survive another moon eclipse
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China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, will meet another moon eclipse in August, but it will pass the test, said a top satellite scientist on Monday.

"The Earth will shade the Sun and block the supply of solar energy for more than four hours this time," said Ye Peijian, chief commander and designer of China's first moon probe satellite system and a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

During that period, the probe would be solely powered by its storage battery, the designed life span of which is one year.

The milestone Chang'e-1 blasted off last October, marking the first step into China's ambitious three-stage moon mission. The 10-month usage of the storage battery by August will lower its capacity.

"But judging from its power consumption during the first moon eclipse, the satellite can survive the trial," Ye said.

Chang'e-1 went through its first moon eclipse test on Feb. 21 morning for two and a half hours.

Scientists redirected the orbit of the satellite so as to shorten the time it was out of direct sunlight by almost one hour and a half, thus when blocked from solar rays, the probe consumed only 40 percent of the battery power rather than the predicted 60 percent under a temperature of minus 100 degrees Celsius, Ye noted.

The satellite would also perform a second orbital adjustment during the upcoming eclipse in August, he said.

Talking about the Chang'e-2 satellite expected to be launched around 2009, Ye said that it would conduct some experiments as preparation for the landing of a rover vehicle scheduled for 2012--the second step of China's moon mission, and height of its orbit at the perigee shall be reduced from 205 kilometers to about 100 kilometers.

Therefore, temperature control of the satellite would be quite important and measurement of the orbit more precise, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 4, 2008)

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