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China's Chang'e 3 deploys Jade Rabbit rover on the lunar surface

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China’s English language Xinhua reported on December 14, 2013 that the Yutu or Jade Rabbit rover has deployed from the Chang’e 3 lunar lander and has begun to roll across the lunar surface on the moon’s Bay of Rainbows.

According to SpaceFlight101, the Jade Rabbit rover weighs 120 kilograms. It is a rectangular vehicle that rolls on six wheels, powered largely with solar panels, and carries a mast that contains the rover’s stereo and navigation cameras and communication antenna. Jade Rabbit also has a remote arm that carries some of its instruments.

Jade Rabbit’s instruments include a ground penetrating radar that will study the subsurface of lunar soil to a depth of 20 meters. It also contains an alpha particle x-ray spectrometer that will be used to determine the elemental chemistry of lunar regolith and rocks. The Visible/Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer is used to make in-situ measurements of lunar minerals and resources distribution. The rover also contains two panoramic cameras and a suite of engineering cameras.

Jade Rabbit is designed to explore the lunar surface around the Chang’e 3 landing site for three months or three lunar days and nights.

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