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China lunar probe serenades Earth for Lantern Festival
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All 30 melodies and songs carried on Chang'e-1, China's first lunar probe, were beamed back to Earth on Thursday to express best wishes for the Lantern Festival, the formal end to the Lunar New Year holiday.

The music was delivered to the media for broadcasting, a source with the lunar exploration project center under the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense said on Thursday.

The 30 pieces were chosen on the basis of public voting, and most were traditional Chinese melodies and popular modern songs.

Chang'e-1 also carried some human voices that expressed encouragement and gratitude, Zhang Rongqiao, deputy head of the lunar exploration project center said.

Zhang added that the voices would be sent back to Earth on Women's Day, Children's Day and other major memorable days and holidays.

Chang'e-1, named after a mythical Chinese goddess who, according to legend, flew to the moon, blasted off on a Long March 3A carrier rocket on Oct. 24 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The satellite traveled nearly 2 million kilometers during its 15-day flight to the moon and reached its final working orbit with a fixed altitude of 200 km on Nov. 7.

The China National Space Administration released the first picture of the moon captured by Chang'e-1 on Nov. 26, marking the full success of the first stage of the country's lunar probe program.

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,investigate the characteristics of the powdery soil layer on the surface, and explore the environment between the Earth and the moon.

Chang'e-1 was designed to stay in orbit for one year, but scientists estimated that precise maneuvers may have saved 200 kg of fuel and prolonged its lifespan.

This is the first step in China's three-stage moon mission, which will lead to a landing and launch of a rover vehicle around 2012. In the third phase, another rover will land and return to the Earth with lunar soil and stone samples for scientific research around 2017.

(Xinhua News Agency February 21, 2008)

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