China unveils moon rover for lunar mission set to launch in December

Nov. 5, 2013 at 3:21 PM
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SHANGHAI, Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Officials in Shanghai have unveiled a moon rover they say will be launched with the Chang'e-3, China's third lunar probe set to be fired into space next month.

Designed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, the six-wheeled rover is equipped with four cameras, and is designed to climb hills and cross over obstacles, China's state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.

"It will move really slowly," planning its route only after observing and detecting the surrounding environment, said Xiao Jie, one of the rover's designers.

Two mechanical legs will dig into the moon's surface to collect samples.

It will have a solar panel to generate electricity but is also equipped with a nuclear battery using plutonium-238 that can provide years of power, officials said.

The 220-pound rover will patrol the moon's surface for at least three months being controlled by scientists on Earth, said Ye Peijian, chief commander of the Chang'e-3 mission, calling it as "the most difficult part of the mission."

A Long March III rocket will send the Chang'e-3 mission toward the moon from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

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