Watch China’s Moon Lander Touch Down
A lander's eye view
China’s Chang’e 3 spacecraft landed on the surface of the moon Saturday night, Beijing time. The craft is China’s first to land on the surface of the moon. This is a video of the landing, taken by cameras installed on Chang’e 3. At first, you’ll see the lunar landscape unspooling beneath you, then around 5:30 in the video, the craft finally chooses a landing spot, hovers, and descends.
If you’re under 37, this is the first time in your life a spacecraft has sent images from the moon’s surface to Earth.
Chang’e 3 ultimately didn’t land in the spot engineers said they were aiming for when they blasted off. But, American planetary scientist Paul Spudis blogged, this location is actually more geologically interesting than the original planned landing site. There is a relatively young lava flow there that Chang’e 3’s rover, Yutu, could study. Yutu has already activated five of its eight scientific instruments, the state-owned newspaper Xinhua reports, and started testing the lunar soil.
China’s next plans are for craft, Chang’e 5 and Chang’e 6, that will be able to not only land on the moon, but also scoop up some samples and return again to Earth, Xinhua reports. Chang’e 4 is a backup for Chang’e 3.