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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

A new Chang'e 3 and Yutu image archive

Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

19-12-2014 14:25 CST

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

I should be writing up all my notes from the American Geophysical Union meeting this week. Instead, I've spent the morning rummaging through a newly posted archive of Chang'e 3 and Yutu images from the surface of the Moon. Some of the images it contains are new; some are familiar; but almost all of them are higher quality than ones I've seen before. And it never gets old to see pictures of human-crafted robots on the surfaces of other worlds.

First, enjoy this five-image collage of a waxing Earth in the lunar sky, taken a year ago, from December 20 to 24, 2013. Just imagine! If you were on the surface with Chang'e 3, Earth would always be in pretty much same position in the lunar sky; it just hovers, slowly waxing and waning across the faster-moving patterns made by its rotation and swirling clouds. All the while that Earth waxes brighter and brighter, the Sun dips lower and lower, so by the time Earth gets to half-full, the Sun sets. Earth is your only source of illumination for the next 14 days, as it goes through full and wanes toward last quarter.

Five views of Earth from Chang'e 3

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Five views of Earth from Chang'e 3
The Chang'e 3 lander watched the Earth wax from new toward first quarter phase from December 20 to 24, 2013.

Here's the same sequence as an animation, because why not?

Five views of Earth from Chang'e 3

And now here is a sequence of images of rover and lander -- the best, sharpest versions of these photos I've yet seen. I've done my best to date them based upon the relative positions of rover and lander, comparing to Phil Stooke's route map.

Here they are on landing day:

Yutu deployed! December 15, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu deployed! December 15, 2013
The Chang'e 3 lander took this photo of Yutu just after its deployment.
Yutu turns to look at the lander after deployment, December 15, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu turns to look at the lander after deployment, December 15, 2013
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).

These next two are cool because they were taken on different days with the rover in the same position -- you can really she the shifting shadows:

Yutu begins circumnavigating the lander, December 16, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu begins circumnavigating the lander, December 16, 2013
A shift in shadows for Yutu, December 19(?), 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

A shift in shadows for Yutu, December 19(?), 2013
After several days in the same position to the northeast of the lander, Yutu is throwing much longer shadows.

I'll never get tired of these.

Yutu touring, December 21, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu touring, December 21, 2013
Yutu touring, December 21, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu touring, December 21, 2013

What the rover saw...

Chang'e 3 lander from the southeast, December 21, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Chang'e 3 lander from the southeast, December 21, 2013
Yutu took this photo as it toured around the lander. You can see the forklift-type ramps from which the rover deployed to the right rear of the lander.
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.

Someone on unmannedspaceflight.com noticed that you can actually see the rover reflected in the lander in this one. Everyone loves selfies!

Yutu self-portrait in the Chang'e 3 lander, December 21, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu self-portrait in the Chang'e 3 lander, December 21, 2013
The Yutu rover sees a distorted image of itself in the mirrored surface of the Chang'e 3 lander.

And finally, Yutu drove off.

Yutu heads south, December 22, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu heads south, December 22, 2013
Yutu makes tracks, December 22, 2013

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu makes tracks, December 22, 2013

There is much more in the image archive -- including lots of individual photos from Yutu during its driving, lots of television images shot during rover deployment, and many panoramas from both rover and lander -- so go check it out, or check out the unmannedspaceflight.com thread where people are processing them into more panoramas and 3D views!

According to reports in Chinese media, the Chang'e 3 lander is still operating; no word on the Yutu rover.

 
See other posts from December 2014

 

Read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, mission status, spacecraft, the Moon, Chang'E program

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