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Four Goals for China's Moon Project

Chang'e I, China's moon probing project, is proceeding in full swing in a well-organized way.


China's first moon probing is planned to be launched in three years. Four scientific goals have been set for the first stage of the program, Chang'e I moon orbiting project.


This was disclosed recently by Ou'yang Ziyuan, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and China's chief scientist on moon probing. He also detailed the project as follows.


Verifications have been conducted on China's moon probing program for years. There were additional verifications on the technical scheme in recent two years. Now everything is going on as scheduled.


The first stage of the program, Chang'e I as it is called, will mostly adopt existing mature technologies and there is nothing insurmountable or fundamental problems technically. However, it takes time to develop all equipment to be installed inside the satellite and to establish systems for orbiting, carrying, monitoring, and ground receiving, as the project aims at the lift-off of a moon probing satellite and making it orbit the moon. It is scheduled that three years is needed before the maiden visit to the moon can be made.


According to the short-term planning, there are three stages for China's moon probing, that is, orbiting, docking, and returning. In the first stage, orbiting, China's first moon exploration satellite will be developed and launched which will conduct a comprehensive, overall, and panoramic observation to capture three-dimensioned graphs of the moon.


Researches for the second stage, docking, include the launch of a docking vehicle for lunar soft landing, soft landing test, inspection around the lunar surface by a lunar rover, on-spot explorations, and moon-based astronomical observations.


For the third stage, returning, in addition to a docking vehicle, a small-sized sampling capsule will be launched which will collect key samples from the moon and return to the earth.


"Orbiting" is presently central to China’s moon probing program. There are four scientific goals for this stage of "orbiting".


For the first goal, there will be three-dimensioned graphs of the lunar surface. Basic structures and physiognomy units of the lunar surface will be defined precisely. Researches on the shape, size, distribution, and density will be made on the crates on the moon. These researches on the crates will produce data for identifying the age of the surface and early history of terrestrial planets and provide information needed to select the sites selecting for soft landing on the moon surface and for the lunar base.


The second goal is concentrating on the distribution and types of elements. It will be focused on the content and distribution of 14 elements such as titanium and iron which can be exploited. A map of elements distribution around the moon will be sketched. Graphs for lunar rocks, mineral materials and geology will also be drawn respectively. The area rich in specific elements will be identified. And prospects of the development and exploitation of the mineral resources will be evaluated.


The third goal is to detect the depth of the lunar soil through microwave radiation. In this way we can calculate the age of the lunar surface and distribution of the lunar soil on the lunar surface. This lays a foundation for the further estimates of the content, distribution, and quantity of helium-3 which is power generating fuel caused by nuclear fusion.


The fourth goal is focused on the space environment between the earth and the moon. The average distance between the earth and the moon is 380 million km, which is in the earth's far magnetotail. Here the satellite probes solar energetic particles, plasma in solar wind, and the interaction between the solar wind and the moon and between the tail of the magnetic field of the earth and the moon.


(Xinhua News Agency November 8, 2003)

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