China's first-ever moon rover is driving on the lunar surface after successfully separating from its carrier lander to begin exploring its landing locale: the Bay of Rainbows.
The Chang'e 3 lunar lander reached the moon Saturday (Dec. 14) at about 9:12 p.m., Beijing time, making China only the third country in the world to achieve such a moon feat after the former Soviet Union and the United States. The lander also delivered the robotic rover Yutu ("Jade Rabbit") to the lunar surface to begin its months-long driving mission.
A few hours after landing, Yutu's wheels were unlocked by the firing of explosive devices and the rover unfolded its solar wings and deployed its instrument-laden mast. A cable connecting the rover and lander was then cut. A "transferer" system — resembling a pair of ladders set up on the lander —then unlocked to inch down closer to the lunar surface, allowing the Yutu rover access to the moon's surface to begin its lunar trek. [See photos of Chang'e 3 on the moon]
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