The shadow of the Earth is seen on the Moon during a total lunar eclipse in Shanghai December 21, 2010. [Photo/Agencies]
BEIJING - China's solar-powered lunar probe satellite Chang'e-2 has successfully stood the test of a lunar eclipse and hours of flying in complete darkness, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) said Wednesday.
The orbiter, launched on October 1, flew out of the shadow at 17:57 Beijing Time (09:57 GMT) Tuesday, said Zhou Jianliang, deputy chief engineer of the BACC.
While in the shadow, it could not be directly controlled from earth and relied on pre-set instructions. It was the first time the orbiter had experienced a lunar eclipse.
Zhou said the European Space Agency had provided tracing and monitoring support for Chang'e-2 during the six hours before the probe entered the shadow, when it was out of reach of China's monitoring stations.
Chang'e-2, named after a legendary Chinese moon goddess, entered its long-term lunar orbit on November 3. and has begun capturing images of the moon's Sinus Iridum, or Bay of Rainbows.
In Monday's rally celebrating the success of Chang'e-2, Chinese President Hu Jintao hailed the project as another achievement in China's lunar exploration program and a result of its drive to build an innovation-oriented nation.
China's first lunar probe Chang'e-1 was launched in October 2007 and ended its 16-month mission in March 2009.