China Lands Rover On Moon. NBD.

Color photo of the moon’s most recent visitor, Jade Rabbit. Credit: CCTV.

Over the weekend, China quietly landed its first ever lander and rover duo on to the surface of the moon (see image above). The time of lunar arrival was 9:11 pm Beijing time, Saturday night, December 14.

China is only the third country ever to manage this feat, following the United States and former Soviet Union who touched down on the satellite back in the 1960s and 1970s. China is also the only country to land a new moon rover in over 3o years. (You can read more about the mission’s background and scientific goals in my earlier post here.)

The recent lunar descent was a shaky, stressful 12 minutes. You can watch it here. Or you can re-live the fun below with some screenshots of the landing, televised by CNTV and spliced up by yours truly.

The rover blasts towards the lunar rocky surface, where circular craters look like round globs. 

JR_descendingThe robot, made in China, moves closer to the ground.

JR_decent2It drops even closer; smaller craters and pits come into focus.

JR_descent3AHHH! The blast of the rover jets make its own scarring on the surface.

JR_Descent4Made it. Touch down.

JR_Descent5

Once the lander had stably set up on the surface, the rover moseyed on out and the machines took pictures of each other. Hours later, back on Earth, scientists and country leaders gathered at the Aerospace Command Center and waited for more stunning surface photos to download. You can watch the taping here.

Chinese leaders wait patiently, soberly, silently.

leaders wait moreScientists wait, too.

Scientists wait morePictures are downloaded.

Scientists waitSPEECH. SPEECH. SPEECH. The magnitude of the moment is celebrated by…wait for it…a backdrop of red and yellow tulips!

SPEECHEveryone is happy. China wins coolest space feat of the weekend, possibly the year. 

Everyones happy

The End.

Zahra Hirji blogs about space and earth science for TRL.

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