Chinese photos show moon’s surface in vivid detail

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China makes public high-resolution photos taken by its lunar lander and rover

They show the moon's crust in vivid detail

It's a show of openness for the country's usually secretive space program

Beijing CNN  — 

China has released hundreds of high-resolution photos taken by its Chang’e-3 lunar lander and rover, showing the moon’s surface in vivid detail.

The China National Space Administration made the images, video clips and scientific data available on its website in a rare show of openness for the country’s usually secretive space program.

China sent its first unmanned lunar probe, the Yutu, or “Jade Rabbit,” to the moon in 2013 as part of its Chang’e-3 mission, becoming only the third nation after the United States and Russia to land on the moon’s surface.

Despite a shaky start to its mission, the Jade Rabbit is still working and sending images and data back to earth.

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The images show the moon’s crust in true color and spectacular detail. The tracks of the Jade Rabbit rover are clearly visible in some pictures. The full data sets are available for the public to download on the website.

China has ambitious plans to explore the moon, with two robotic missions planned for the next two years.

In 2017, China will launch the Chang’e-5 spacecraft, which plans to land on the moon and return with soil samples.

While in 2018, China plans to land on the far side of the moon with the Chang’e-4 spacecraft, a mission, which, if successful, would make it the first country to do so.

China hasn’t committed to it, but many analysts think the country ultimately wants to put a man on the moon.

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