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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Finally, some high-quality photos from Chang'e 3!

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

10-01-2014 11:37 CST

Topics: pics of Earth by planetary missions, pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, Earth, spacecraft, the Moon, Chang'E program

EDITED JANUARY 13: Three of the images have been replaced as noted below.

Once again, tips from helpful users at nasaspaceflight.com and from Twitter have led me to a new pile of photos from the Chang'e 3 mission. And these are the best-quality ones I've seen yet. Almost all of the images I've seen to date have been shared through a bizarre roundabout method of projecting them on a screen, then filming them with a video camera, then aired on television, and then screen-grabbed. These photos are different: they are clearly direct from the original digital data. They're still not perfect -- they have been downsampled, contrast-enhanced, watermarked, and JPEG-compressed -- but they're so, so much better than what I've seen before, rich with detail and nuanced in color. They were also accompanied by a little bit of information about when they were taken, which is great. Here's the trove of images.

This first one is really special:

Earth from Change'3

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Earth from Change'3
The Chang'e 3 lunar lander captured this photo of Earth from the lunar surface on December 25 at 2:15 China time (December 24 at 18:15 UTC).

Note: the Earth image has been replaced with a higher-resolution version since I first posted it.

And these panoramic 360 views around lander and rover are new:

Panoramic view around the Chang'e 3 lander

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Panoramic view around the Chang'e 3 lander
Chang'e 3 captured the images for this panoramic view around the landing site on December 17 and 18, 2013. The images have been mosaicked into a polar azimuthal projection, showing the full 360 degrees of terrain around the lander.
Panoramic view around Yutu rover, December 23, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Panoramic view around Yutu rover, December 23, 2013

Here, Phil Stooke has "unwrapped" the polar azimuthal view to make a more familiar-looking panorama:

Panorama around the Chang'e 3 lander (unwrapped)

Chinese Academy of Sciences / Phil Stooke

Panorama around the Chang'e 3 lander (unwrapped)
Chang'e 3 captured the images for this panoramic view around the landing site on December 17 and 18, 2013. The original image was in polar azimuthal projection; it has been reprojected into a more familiar landscape view here.

Look, here's some science data! An ultraviolet view of Earth:

Earth in the ultraviolet from Chang'e 3

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Earth in the ultraviolet from Chang'e 3
The extreme ultraviolet camera on Chang'e 3 studies the plasma environment around Earth at a wavelength of 63 nanometers. This image was taken shortly after Chang'e 3's landing, on December 16, 2013.

Note: the ultraviolet "image" that I had originally posted was a computer simulation. The image above is actual data.

We've seen these descent images before, but the detail is really nice here:

Chang'e 3 descent camera photo from an altitude of 99 meters

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Chang'e 3 descent camera photo from an altitude of 99 meters
Taken during the landing on December 14, 2013.
Chang'e 3 descent camera photo from an altitude of 7.9 meters

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Chang'e 3 descent camera photo from an altitude of 7.9 meters
Taken during the landing on December 14, 2013.

And finally, some lovely colorful landscape shots around the lander, of the rover, and images of the lander from the rover's survey.

First images of lunar landscape from Chang'e 3 lander, December 15, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

First images of lunar landscape from Chang'e 3 lander, December 15, 2013

Note: the image above has been replaced with a higher-resolution version since I first posted it.

Yutu safely deployed!

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu safely deployed!
This photo from the Chang'e 3 lander confirmed the safe deploy of the Yutu rover on the lunar surface at 23:41 China time (17:41 UTC) on December 15, 2013.
Yutu on the Moon, December 16, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu on the Moon, December 16, 2013
Lunar landscape from Chang'e 3, December 17, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Lunar landscape from Chang'e 3, December 17, 2013
Chang'e 3 took this photo of the lunar landscape on December 18 at 01:14 Chinese time (December 17 at 17:14 UTC).
Chang'e 3 lander from Yutu, December 15, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Chang'e 3 lander from Yutu, December 15, 2013
This photo was captured during an imaging sequence of the lander from the rover on December 15 from 20:44 to 20:52 China time (12:44 to 12:52 UTC).
Chang'e 3 lander from Yutu, December 15, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Chang'e 3 lander from Yutu, December 15, 2013
This photo was captured during an imaging sequence of the lander from the rover on December 16 from 03:43 to 03:50 China time (December 15 from 19:43 to 19:50 UTC).
Front view of the Chang'e 3 lander, December 21, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Front view of the Chang'e 3 lander, December 21, 2013
By December 21, Yutu had completed a semicircular traverse around the lander and was able to view its "front" (south-facing) side.

I got most of the images from this slideshow. I don't recommend following that link, because the photo site also contains other photos I'd rather not have seen. I got the ultraviolet image from another slideshow that contained most of the same photos as the first slideshow, but at much worse JPEG compression.

The Sun should have risen at the landing site by now. Time to wake up, Chang'e 3!

 
See other posts from January 2014

 

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

Comments:

Ryan: 01/10/2014 11:58 CST

Great pictures, thanks for braving the Slideshow Emily. Anyone have the pulse of the Moon Landing denier community on this one? I would be curious as to how their arguments are falling apart, or morphing with new pictures mixed with the China hot button.

Martin Collin: 01/11/2014 01:29 CST

Thanks for these helpful photos, Emily, especially the lovely one of Earth from the Moon. Your insights & contributions are one of the main reasons i'm pleased to be a member of the Planetary Society!

Ichiban: 01/11/2014 07:42 CST

Ryan: Typical stuff from the hoaxers. Pictures are photoshoped , we paid the Chinese not to land at the fake Apollo sights, the Chinese paid us to help them fake the landing, shadows are wrong, no blast crater under the lander ect. ect.....

Bob Ware: 01/13/2014 09:15 CST

The landers aft pod sank into the regolith more than the other pods and more so than the LEM from APOLLO. Great photos Emily. thanks for sharing!

loindevant: 01/14/2014 07:25 CST

great pictures just a little question : what is the physic phenomen that explain there is no stars at all on it ?? thank you

Ryan Christopher: 01/14/2014 06:32 CST

Loindevant: Pretty sure its the same reason you can't see stars in the Apollo pictures, the lit foreground in sunlight is too bright to allow enough exposure time to see the stars. Emily's newest Yutu post has a picture of stars, but with no ground in the image.

Oakcrest12: 04/28/2014 11:31 CDT

I know I'm "late to the party" seeing this was put up in January, but I just had to say that I have never been a believer in the whole conspiracy thing, and I'm more than sure that we, the US, did land on the moon. But some of these pictures look like they were taken in a room with black walls. The ground/floor just goes straight out then just stops with no degree of fading or anything. I'm sure there is some reason, but it does seem kind of odd to me, plus seeing it was the Chi-Comms I wouldn't put it past them wanting to up their "street cred" in their national standing.

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