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7 Irregularities that suggest Earth’s Moon was engineered

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Chinese lunar rover makes first tracks on moon, state media reports

Chinese lunar rover makes first tracks on moon, state media reports

Published December 15, 2013

FoxNews.com
  • China Space_Cham(1)640.jpg

    December 15, 2013: This image taken from video, shows China’s first moon rover touching the lunar surface and leaving deep traces on its loose soil, several hours after the country successfully carried out the world’s first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades. The writing at the top of the image reads “Surveillance camera C image.” (AP Photo/CCTV VNR via AP video)

  • China Space_Cham640.jpg

    December 14, 2013: This photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, shows a picture of the moon surface taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang’e-3 on the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China. (AP)

China’s first lunar rover has successfully separated from the probe that carried it into space has and made its first track upon the surface of the moon, Chinese state media reported Sunday. 

The so-called “Jade Rabbit” rover detached itself from the much larger landing vehicle early Sunday morning, approximately seven hours after the unmanned Chang’e 3 space probe touched down on a fairly flat, Earth-facing part of the moon. The soft landing — the term for a landing in which neither the spacecraft nor its equipment is damaged — was the first on the moon by any nation in 37 years.

State broadcaster China Central Television showed images taken from the lander’s camera of the rover and its shadow moving down a sloping ladder and touching the surface, setting off applause in the Beijing control center. It said the lander and rover, both bearing Chinese flags, will take photos of each other Sunday evening.

Later, the six-wheeled rover will survey the moon’s geological structure and surface and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will carry out scientific explorations at the landing site for one year.

The mission marks the next stage in an ambitious space program that aims to eventually put a Chinese astronaut on the moon.

“It’s still a significant technological challenge to land on another world,” Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane’s Space Systems and Industry, told the Associated Press. “Especially somewhere like the moon, which doesn’t have an atmosphere so you can’t use parachutes or anything like that. You have to use rocket motors for the descent and you have to make sure you go down at the right angle and the right rate of descent and you don’t end up in a crater on top of a large rock.”

On Saturday evening, state-run China Central Television showed a computer-generated image of the Chang’e 3 lander’s path as it approached the surface of the moon, saying that during the 12-minute landing period it needed to have no contact with Earth. As it was just hundreds of meters (yards) away, the lander’s camera broadcast images of the moon’s surface.

The Chang’e 3’s solar panels, which are used to absorb sunlight to generate power, opened soon after the landing.

The Chang’e mission blasted off from southwest China on Dec. 2 on a Long March-3B carrier rocket.

The Chang’e 3 mission is named after a mythical Chinese goddess of the moon and the “Yutu” rover, or “Jade Rabbit” in English, is the goddess’ pet.

China’s military-backed space program has made methodical progress in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in technology and experience.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation after Russia and the United States to achieve manned space travel independently. In 2006, it sent its first probe to the moon. China plans to open a space station around 2020 and send an astronaut to the moon after that.

“They are taking their time with getting to know about how to fly humans into space, how to build space stations … how to explore the solar system, especially the moon and Mars,” Bond said. “They are making good strides, and I think over the next 10-20 years they’ll certainly be rivaling Russia and America in this area and maybe overtaking them in some areas.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Lunar Craters Covering Moon’s Near Side Are Bigger Than Far Side

Lunar Craters Covering Moon’s Near Side Are Bigger Than Far Side Due To Hemisphere Differences

natureheader  |  By Davide CastelvecchiPosted: 11/08/2013 9:07 am EST  |  Updated: 11/08/2013 9:43 am EST

 
lunar craters

When the Soviet probe Luna 3 sent back the first shots of the dark side of the Moon, they showed that it was noticeably more pockmarked by craters than the near side. The nearside crust, by contrast, had more large, shallow basins. More than 50 years after those images first baffled researchers,a study published today in Science explains the observations.

Some theories suggest that the large basins on the near side were caused by impacts from asteroids bigger than those that caused the craters on the far side. But the latest study suggests that the observed basins do not accurately reflect the size of the initial impact, because as asteroids battered the lunar surface in the early history of the Solar System, the Moon’s warmer and softer nearside crust melted like butter, producing giant lava flows that filled the impact craters and transformed them into basins.

To improve on previous estimates of the size and distribution of basins, the team behind the study used data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory mission (GRAIL), two satellites that since 2011 have been orbiting the Moon and mapping subtle variations in the strength of its gravitational field. Basins are characterized by thinner crust, says first author Katarina Miljković, a planetary scientist at the Paris Institute of Earth Physics. The team used GRAIL’s gravity mapsto find such thin crust and measure the true size of the basins.

“We didn’t have to look at topography nearly at all, just at the crust thickness,” says Miljković. The researchers found that although both sides of the Moon had the same total number of impact craters, the near side had eight basins larger than 320 kilometers in diameter, whereas the far side had only one.

 Hot hit

 The asteroid bombardment should have battered both sides equally, Miljković points out. The asymmetry could have arisen from comparatively small objects punching above their weight on the near side, producing basins more easily than on the far side.

Simulations showed that if the largest dark area on the near side — the plain of volcanic rock known as Oceanus Procellarum — was hundreds of degrees hotter than crust on the far side, impacts there would produce basins up to twice as large as impacts from similar-sized bodies on the far side (see video above).

And indeed, around 4 billion years ago, or 500 million years after the Moon formed, the near side could have been warmer than the far side. Researchers looking at the near side have detected the presence of radioactive isotopes; their decay would have heated up the rock, explains study co-author Maria Zuber, a planetary scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and principal investigator of GRAIL.

The findings fit well with the observations, but “there is no consensus” as to what caused the startling asymmetry in isotope content between the near side and the far side, says Jeffrey Taylor, a lunar scientist at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. One leading theory posits that material rich in radioactive elements rose in a gigantic volcanic plume and formed a magma basin; another that it came from a collision with a sister moon around 1,000 kilometers in diameter.

William Bottke, a lunar scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, says that the work could lead researchers to revise just how dramatic asteroid bombardments were in the early Solar System. “This can be used to more accurately derive what the small-body populations were like four billion years ago.”

This story originally appeared in Nature News.

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