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China's moon probe Chang'e 3/Yutu awaken after long lunar night

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CR English reported on January 12, 2014 that the Chang’e 3 lunar probe and its Yutu rover has passed another milestone by successfully “waking up” after being placed in sleep mode during the lunar night starting on December 26, 2013. This was necessary as both parts of China’s lunar mission are largely dependent on solar panels to provide power.

China launched the Chang’e 3 in early December, 2013 and subsequently landed it on the moon’s Bay of Rainbow, making that country the third to have landed something on the lunar surface after the United States and the old Soviet Union. China’s feat has caused an up swelling in national pride in that country and a corresponding feeling of angst in the United States, which has largely abandoned lunar exploration by presidential mandate.

The Change’e 3 and the Yutu will now continue its scientific exploration, ferreting our possible mineral resources on the moon. China intends to launch more probes to the moon, including a sample return mission in 2017, in advance of a possible manned mission to Earth’s nearest neighbor in the 2020s.

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