China to publish 1st picture of moon in 3 days

Updated: 2007-11-23 22:33

The first picture of the moon captured by China's first lunar orbiter, Chang'e-1, is expected to be ready for publication within three days, the country's space administration said on Friday.

Data of the original picture taken by the satellite has now been transmitted back to Earth, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.

On Tuesday, the stereo camera aboard Chang'e-1 was put into operation and afterward, the satellite sent back its first batch of data for the moon picture.

"The data is currently being processed and analyzed to produce the first real picture of the moon," said a CNSA official. "The picture would need official assessment before it could be published in accordance with international practice."

The image's processing and production would take two to three days, the official said, adding that the camera could cover the whole moon surface within a month.

By 8 am on Friday, Chang'e-1 had orbited the moon 189 times and was working properly at a stable altitude of 200 kilometers, its final working orbit.

The satellite adjusted its position to point its probing equipment towards the moon on Monday. Since it entered the moon's orbit on November 7 it has gone through a number of tests.

Monday's maneuvers also positioned the probe's solar panel toward the sun for power generation and the directional antenna toward the Earth for data transmission.

The 2,350-kg satellite carries eight probing facilities, including a stereo camera and interferometer, an imager and gamma/x-ray spectrometer, a laser altimeter, a microwave detector, a high-energy solar particle detector and a low-energy ion detector.

The satellite aims to fulfill four scientific objectives. They include a three-dimensional survey of the moon surface, analysis on the abundance and distribution of elements on the lunar surface, an investigation of the characteristics of lunar regolith and the powdery soil layer on the surface, and an exploration of the circumstance between the Earth and moon.

Chang'e-1, named after a mythical Chinese goddess who, according to legend, flew to the moon, blasted off a Long March 3Acarrier rocket at 6:05 pm on October 24 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern Sichuan Province.

The satellite traveled nearly two million kilometers in its 15 day flight to the moon before it reached its final working orbit.

Chang'e-1 was designed to stay on its final working orbit for one year. Scientists estimated the smooth operations and precise maneuvers may have saved 200 kg of fuel and helped prolong the probe's lifespan.

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