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Kunming observatory in contact with China's first lunar probe

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327 http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.rss.html?pid=23874# from Xichang, Sichuan province, marking a new milestone in the country's space program. As one of the four observatory sites for the Chang'e-1 (嫦娥一号) probe, Yunnan Astronomical Observatory and its 40-meter telescope have established contact with the probe and are currently receiving signals and monitoring its progress.

Chang'e-1 is a major step forward for the China Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP), which intends to put robotic explorers on the moon by 2020. The probe will engage in 3-D mapping and chemical analysis of the lunar surface and will also measure the depth of the moon's layer of soil and examine space weather between the Earth and the moon.

In contact with Chang'e
In contact with Chang'e

Located on Phoenix Hill in the east suburbs of Kunming, Yunnan Astronomical Observatory is a state institute for scientific research and public science education. At an altitude of 2,020 meters, the station benefits from Kunming's transparent skies and ideal geographical position.

Yunnan Astronomical Observatory engineers told local media today that it has begun to receive signals from Chang'e-1 after the probe's solar panel unfolded successfully. The observatory's telescope will constantly monitor the probe's operations as it circles the moon from 200 kilometers above the lunar surface. Observatory engineers said Kunming's shifting weather patterns should not affect monitoring of the lunar orbiter.

Chang'e-1 Image: CCTV via Dushi Shibao

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