I’m getting a little of that old Apollo feeling all over again watching the Chinese rover Yutu carefully “step” down the lander ramp and roll onto the moon’s surface. The crew at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in China must have been holding their breath for minutes as Yutu inched its way to down the ramp and left its first impressions in the lunar dust.
Just a quick “so far, so good” update today mostly to share photos and video. The landing site looks just about perfect in that it appears flat and uncluttered by boulders that may have posed a hazard on landing. Ahead of the lander, a modest crater surrounded by what appears to be rocky impact ejecta looks like a tempting target for exploration.
Watch the rover separate from the lander in more detail in this longer video clip. Separation begins about 3 1/2 minutes in. Credit: CCTV
China’s moon mission is the first by any country since the Soviet Union’s Lunar 24 sample-return mission in 1976. When you go out tonight and gaze up at the almost-full moon, look near the top center and picture the rover in your mind’s eye already at work taking pictures of its new home in Sinus Iridium the Bay of Rainbows.