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China to launch Chang'e-2 lunar probe around 2009
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China plans to launch its second lunar probe, Chang'e-2, around 2009, according to a top satellite scientist.

Ye Peijian, chief commander and designer of China's first moon probe satellite system, revealed the plan during an interview program on CCTV, China Central Television.

However, Ye did not elaborate on the plan with more details.

He said Chang'e-1, the country's first lunar probe, had resumed contact with the control center after it moved out of the shadow area caused by an eclipse of the sun at about 14:10 on Thursday.

From about 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, the satellite was blocked from the supply of solar energy when the Earth eclipsed the sun and lost the contact with the control center.

Scientists redirected the orbit of the satellite before the eclipse started.

"Chang'e-1 passed the test," Ye said, adding that 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.

The satellite will perform another orbital adjustment while preparing for a second eclipse in August, he said.

The 2,350-kilogram satellite carrying eight surveying facilities aims to make a three-dimensional survey of the moon's surface. It will also analyze the abundance and distribution of elements on the lunar surface and investigate the characteristics of the powdery soil layer on the surface, and explore the environment between the Earth and the moon.

China's moon mission also includes a landing of a rover vehicle around 2012 and the launch of another rover that will land and return to the Earth with lunar soil and stone samples for scientific research around 2017.

(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2008)

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