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Emily LakdawallaDecember 13, 2013

Chang'e 3 landing tomorrow 13:40 UT, earlier than previously reported

According to numerous Chinese news reports, Chang'e 3's landing on the Moon is now scheduled to begin at 21:40 Beijing time on December 14, which is 13:40 UT or 05:40 PT. That's about two hours earlier than previously stated. Once deceleration begins, the whole process will take about 750 seconds. Here is a Xinhua news site in English that may contain news updates about the landing. It is possible that this CCTV website will contain a news feed. Chinese television coverage will begin at 11:00 UT. I am not sure that I will be able to cover this event live; I'm not feeling well and need the sleep! But if I do I will be watching for English language CCTV coverage here.

Some other bits of useful information:

Also, this interesting tidbit about plans for Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter observations, from a comment on a previous Chang'e post: "LRO will be attempting to collect spectrographic data from the LAMP instrument as close to the landing time as possible, primarily to see the rocket plume and the dust kicked up from the landing. The camera will image the lander some time after the landing, but even at the spectacular resolution of the LRO Camera, there probably won't be much more than a blur to see."

In a previous post I included this infographic on the mission. Some very helpful commenters have translated its contents, and I'm including those translations below.

Chang'e 3 infographic
Chang'e 3 infographic

The long text at top:

The numbered series of diagrams:

  1. Begin active deceleration at an altitude of 15 kilometers (which is the periapsis altitude).
  2. Turn to landing attitude at an altitude of 2 kilometers. (Descending vertically from here?)
  3. At an altitude of 100 meters, stop and hover; use cameras to autonomously detect hazards and find a flat place to land.
  4. Descend from 100 meters to 4 meters using thrusters.
  5. Free-fall from an altitude of 4 meters to the surface.
  6. After soft landing, release the rover.

The diagram at right showing activities once on the ground:

Read more: mission status, Chang'E program

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
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