China on Tuesday announced plans to launch its third lunar probe early next month, which will, according to officials, attempt to carry out the first “soft landing” on the Moon by any nation in more than three decades.
The Chang’e-3 probe will carry a moon rover – named Jade Rabbit, or Yutu in Chinese – and conduct a soft-landing on the lunar surface in the middle of December. The rover, which takes its name from a popular Chinese mythological story about a rabbit that lives on the moon, will spend three months exploring the surface. Media reports said this would mark the first “soft landing” on the moon since 1976, when the former Soviet Union achieved the feat.
— Ananth Krishnan