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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Six wheels on soil for Yutu!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

14-12-2013 15:28 CST

Topics: pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, spacecraft, the Moon, Chang'E program, animation

Here is the Youtube video of the rover's deployment -- this was taped live, condensed in time, and replayed on Chinese state television. Scroll down for animated gifs!

Here it is! An animated gif, composed of screen grabs from Chinese state television, of the Yutu rover rolling on to the lunar surface. This was a replay; the actual rollout happened at 20:40 UT (12:40 PT). Six wheels on soil! Woohoo! I'll be adding more pics and animations to this blog post as I get them.

Chang'e 3 rover Yutu rolls onto the lunar surface

CNSA / CCTV / Emily Lakdawalla

Chang'e 3 rover Yutu rolls onto the lunar surface
Screen caps taken from a Chinese state television feed show the view from a side-looking camera mounted to the lander of the Yutu rover deploying from a ramp onto the surface of the Moon on December 14, 2013

 Here are a couple more animated gifs made from screen grabs. Ctrl-Prtscrn, Alt-Tab, Ctrl-V, Alt-Tab, repeat!!

Yutu rolling onto the transfer ramp

CNSA / CCTV / Emily Lakdawalla

Yutu rolling onto the transfer ramp
Yutu rover being transferred down from lander toward lunar surface

CNSA / CCTV / Emily Lakdawalla

Yutu rover being transferred down from lander toward lunar surface

If I understood correctly from the voice over on the broadcast, the whole process was commanded, step-by-step, from mission control in Beijing. First they unlocked the rover wheels, then disconnected the cable to the lander. Then they commanded the rover to drive out onto the transfer ramp. It sounded like the first commanded drive was slightly short; they commanded another few centimeters of drive to place the rover in the correct position on the ram. Then they commanded the ramp to lower. You can see on the animation immediately above this paragraph how that seems to involve a wire -- presumably the weight of the rover carried it downward as the wire was reeled out. Then they commanded the rover to drive forward and on to the surface.

According to what they said earlier today, there will be an event 24 hours after the landing where they unveil the first images shot by the rover of the lander, and vice versa. That will be our first chance to see photos from science cameras. I look forward to that!

See other posts from December 2013


Or read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, spacecraft, the Moon, Chang'E program, animation


Teslagirl: 12/14/2013 05:50 CST

This is far more sophisticated than I expected. Well done China! Let's hope the US has a Sputnik moment and starts to fund space travel properly again.

Dean Male: 12/14/2013 09:35 CST

Excellent coverage, Emily - and most of it way past your bedtime! We appreciate your efforts. Dean

Bob Ware: 12/14/2013 09:54 CST

Congratulations China and welcome to the alien world explorers club!

Mike Loucks: 12/15/2013 01:19 CST

Well done China, kick up some dust! (For LADEE!). Thanks for the cool coverage Emily.

Martin Rundkvist: 12/15/2013 05:57 CST

So frustrating that the Chinese aren't being more open about their space program! It's not just a question of us in the West being bad at Mandarin. There is no NASA-like online fire hose of information in Chinese. There's just press kits, really. )-:

Lewis McCrary: 12/15/2013 08:01 CST

I really hope we can get some decent coverage of this. Just a video snippet here and there. Come on China, we buy lots of stuff from you guys. Lets see some moon coverage! I also wonder how the moon hoaxers will spin this one. **grabs popcorn** thanks for the info! -Lewis

Cathryn-Jane Easthope: 12/15/2013 08:08 CST

"I also wonder how the moon hoaxers will spin this one. **grabs popcorn**" I'll start us off: It was obviously filmed in a studio on the moon...

Teslagirl: 12/15/2013 09:27 CST

I'm currently sitting on a hopefully live feed waiting for the new pictures:

David Czuba: 12/19/2013 12:18 CST

Let me first say it is a great moment for China, but a sad moment in space aspiration for America. Unless the commercial space industry in the U.S. helps install infrastructure for going on a regular basis to the Moon and back, then China will do it first. As for the hoaxers, "We brought you all this way to see the footprints, but you still think it was a hoax."

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