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China tests apparatus for lunar satellite

China lately completed research and development of an exploration apparatus that will be used on the country’s first lunar satellite, which is expected to be launched in 2006. The major task of the lunar satellite is to obtain three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, analyze the content of useful elements and materials on the surface, probe the depth of the lunar soil and investigate the space environment between the earth and the moon. At the Center for Space Science and Applied Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, where the test is conducted, Sun Huixian, general director of the application system of China’s moon probing program, showed reporter two sensors, one for gamma ray spectrometer and the other for X-ray spectrometer. They are used to analyze the various elements on the moon surface by collecting date of gamma ray and X-ray at different energy spectrums.

The apparatus consists 24 devices, including a special camera for getting 3D images of the moon surface, and other equipment to obtain lunar spectrum and probe solar high-energy particles and solar wind ions.

The apparatus research work began last July, and the first general test was kicked off on the 15th of last month. By now theoretical studies have been finished, said Sun, and now scientists are testing the apparatus to ensure that the whole set of devices can operate in coordination with information correctly exchanged and processed.

Then experts will move on to ensure the apparatus can work normally during the launch, in vacuum, and in environment of high and low temperatures as well as radiation. Then, based on data gained from this they will produce a set of devices to be finally installed in the satellite of 2006.

Another innovation is to use micro wave remote sensing to assess the depth of the lunar soil. China expects the landing of an unmanned vehicle on the moon before 2010 after the 2006 launch of lunar satellite. Then, the nation will complete the collection of samples of lunar soil before 2020. Based on these the country will consider a manned landing.