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China Hopes To Land Robot On Moon By 2012
The lunar vehicle, "Chang'e-I", that China will launch in 2007, is expected to land on the surface of the moon by 2012, according to the People's Daily Online news site. Between now and 2020, China's lunar exploration program will focus on unmanned probing. The program is divided into three stages.
When attending the "forum on Important Chinese Engineering and Technology Achievements" Hu Hao, deputy director of No 1 systematic engineering department, under the State Commission of Science and Technology for National Defense Industry (and director of the lunar exploration engineering center), disclosed that as the first part of China's lunar exploration program, the Chang'e-I satellite is expected to be put in lunar orbit by 2007, by a Long March III A carrier rocket, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
The lunar orbiter was named "Chang'e-I" as part of China's lunar exploration program, in reference to an ancient legend about a fairy Chang'e who flies to the moon.
Hu said from now until 2020, or a period later, China's lunar exploration program will focus on unmanned probing. The program is divided into three stages.
From now until 2007, the focus will be on orbiting the moon; from 2005 to 2012 an unmanned vehicle will land on the moon, in the second stage for the exploration of the moon's surface; from 2010 to 2017, a vehicle will land on the moon to collect lunar soil samples, in the final stage.
It is revealed that the Chang'e-I satellite, which is expected to be launched in 2007, will complete four scientific assignments.
The primary assignment will be to make a "portrait" of the moon. In addition to obtaining a three-dimensional image of the lunar surface, Chang'e-I will analyze the content and distribution of useful elements on the moon's surface, measure the depth of lunar soil and explore the space between the earth and the moon.
Following the Chang'e-I satellite orbiting the moon, an unmanned vehicle, or "moon rover", is expected to land on the moon in the second stage, in 2012, perambulating the moon surface, and exploring the moon's resources.
When compared with common robots, the "moon rover" will be an analysis-type robot, or robot scientist. It must be able to work within the Moon's rugged environment, to withstand solarization, freezing and radiation, as well as operating autonomously.
Referring to the moon rovers currently being developed and displayed by some colleges, universities and scientific research institutions, Hu said that unfortunately none of them, as yet, could be applied to moon exploration- being too far away, in design, from the true "moon rovers" the country would need.
Hu said that only by knowing the environment of the moon can the "moon rover"- one fit for the moon environment- be developed.
After completing the task of an unmanned landing on the moon, further research will be made for a manned landing, and an opportunity will then be sought to set up a moon base with other countries concerned.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
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