NASA moon orbiter snaps photo of Chinese rover and its lander

Dec. 31, 2013 at 5:11 PM
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GREENBELT, Md., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- China's Yutu rover on the surface of the moon is visible in an image captured by a camera on a NASA satellite orbiting the moon, scientists say.

The 5-foot-wide wheeled vehicle appears as a single pixel in the images from the space agency's Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter.

In the same image, taken from an altitude of 93 miles,the lander that put Yutu down on the moon's surface in the Mare Imbrium Dec. 14 is visible nearby.

Although fairly small, the two craft show up in the LRO images for two reasons, NASA said in a release.

"The solar panels are very effective at reflecting light so the rover shows up as two bright pixels, and the sun is setting thus the rover casts a distinct shadow (as does the lander,)" the space agency said.

The LRO satellite was not in a position to capture images of the actual landing, NASA said, and only arrived directly overhead the Chinese rover on Christmas Day.

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