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Chang'e 1 sends back moon picture
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China's first lunar probe Chang'e 1 sent back its first moon picture on Tuesday as scheduled, the National Space Administration has said.


Experts will later adjust cameras on the satellite according to the moon picture's quality to ensure following photos are clear and accurate, the Shaanxi-based West China City Daily reported today.


The first moon photo will be made public next week, the report cited the administration as saying.


Tests on the orbiter's equipment showed that it is working normally and in good condition, the administration said.


The probe had orbited the moon 168 times by 2 pm yesterday, the administration said.


More tests will be conducted in the next few days that will help ensure data transmissions continue. The satellite has gone through a number of tests since it entered the moon's orbit on November 7. Chang'e 1's position was adjusted on Monday so its probing equipment faced the moon.


The satellite, named after a mythical Chinese goddess who flew to the moon, is supposed to stay 200 km above the moon's surface to carry out scientific explorations for one year.


Cameras on the 2,350-kilogram satellite are expected to photograph every inch of the moon's surface by mid January.


The orbiter is expected to analyze the chemical and mineral composition of the lunar surface and send data back to the Earth so that scientists can better understand the moon's environment, Li Guoping, the administration's spokesman, said in earlier reports.


Chang'e 1 blasted off on a Long March 3A carrier rocket on October 24 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province, marking the first step of China's ambitious 10-year moon plan, which will lead to a moon landing and launch of a moon rover around 2012.


In the third phase, scheduled for 2017, another rover will land on the moon and return to earth with lunar soil and stone samples for scientific research.


In 2003, China became only the third country in the world after the United States and Russia to send a human into orbit.


(Shanghai Daily November 22, 2007)

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