The Chang’e 3 Mission Overview


The Chang’e 3 (CE-3) mission was implemented as the first lander/rover mission of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP). After its successful launch at 01:30 local time on December 2, 2013, CE-3 was inserted into an eccentric polar lunar orbit on December 6, and landed to the east of a 430 m crater in northwestern Mare Imbrium (19.51°W, 44.12°N) at 21:11 on December 14, 2013. The Yutu rover separated from the lander at 04:35, December 15, and traversed for a total of 0.114 km. Acquisition of science data began during the descent of the lander and will continue for 12 months during the nominal mission. The CE-3 lander and rover each carry four science instruments. Instruments on the lander are: Landing Camera (LCAM), Terrain Camera (TCAM), Extreme Ultraviolet Camera (EUVC), and Moon-based Ultraviolet Telescope (MUVT). The four instruments on the rover are: Panoramic Camera (PCAM), VIS-NIR Imaging Spectrometer (VNIS), Active Particle induced X-ray Spectrometer (APXS), and Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR). The science objectives of the CE-3 mission include: (1) investigation of the morphological features and geological structures of and near the landing area; (2) integrated in-situ analysis of mineral and chemical composition of and near the landing area; and (3) exploration of the terrestrial-lunar space environment and lunar-based astronomical observations. This paper describes the CE-3 objectives and measurements that address the science objectives outlined by the Comprehensive Demonstration Report of Phase II of CLEP. The CE-3 team has archived the initial science data, and we describe data accessibility by the science community.

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We thank Julie Stopar for proofreading the manuscript that helped improve this paper and the two referees for their constructive comments.

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Correspondence to Han Li.

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Li, C., Liu, J., Ren, X. et al. The Chang’e 3 Mission Overview. Space Sci Rev 190, 85–101 (2015).

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  • Moon
  • Lunar
  • Spacecraft
  • Mission design