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China's first lunar satellite scheduled to hit moon
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Chang'e I, China's first lunar probe satellite will hit the moon to end its one-year orbital tour as part of the research mission, said Professor Xiao Naiyuan from the Department of Astronomy of Nanjing University in a scientific lecture held on October 6, according to a report by Nanjing Daily on October 8. The launch day of the satellite is yet to be determined.

The satellite is expected to shoot high-resolution photos when crashing into the moon, said Xiao.

According to China News, the satellite will be pushed into a lunar orbit about 384,400 kilometers away from the earth, thus registering the longest distance that Chinese satellites have reached to date. During the 157-hour journey, the satellite will be first propelled into two earth orbits, one at 70,000 kilometers and the second at 120,000 kilometers away from earth. After an 83-hour flight, Chang'e I will then follow a lunar orbit 200 kilometers away from the moon surface.

The country's four radio telescopes: Beijing Miyun Station of National Astronomical Observatory, Yunan Astronomical Observatory, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory and Urumqi Observatory will all receive signals sent by Chang'e I from its lunar orbit.

Chinese astronomers expect to draw a three dimensional image of the moon from satellite photos. They aim to accurately depict one-square-meter of the lunar landscape. Experts will also study the content and composition of 14 elements, including ferrum (Fe) and titanium (Ti), on the moon's surface. Chinese astronomers have conducted research on lunar rock since 1978 when the country received a nail sized one-gram sample from the United States.

( by Wu Jin October 10, 2007)

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