Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Outstanding animation celebrates China's Chang'E 3

Animations, even notional illustrations, of the up-coming CNSA Chang'E 3 lunar lander and its rover have been nearly non-existent. Those of us who have learned fresh pictures are essential for our readers to pay attention to even the most crackling fresh textual news have had to use and re-use often hazy pictures, some from conferences nearly a decade old.

Hopefully, that's beginning to change, perhaps as much a result of labors of love and a broader availability of modeling software beyond any change of priorities on the part of CNSA. That agency's web presence, without the regular help of China's state new agency Xinhua, is plainly useless. Unfortunately Xinhua's reports, though arriving now with increased regularity, are rarely accompanied with any illustration.

But, let's face the sad fact. NASA, JPL, and Goddard's Science Visualization Studio (SVS), as well as very talented subcontractors like John Frassanito & Associates have spoiled us.

Of course, George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic and Hollywood's regular use of CGI played an even bigger role in advancing our expectations. We have come to expect mission-oriented stills and animations, even real time simulations, as essential to news of the most obscure flights. It meets a demand where the rule of media has long been "no picture, no story."

Still from unprecedented, professional class animation celebrating the upcoming Chang'e 3 mission to the lunar surface [Pockn].
Fortunately for us, someone about whom we presently know very little, beyond a Weibo blog we are still translating and a YouTube account profile ("Pockn Liu"), has just published a brief but outstanding animation celebrating Chang'e 3, about to become the third of China's unmanned lunar missions, now being readied for a December launch.

If successful, when Chang'e 3 lands, as planned, in Sinus Iridum, China will accomplish the first soft-landing on the Moon in nearly four decades, since the Soviet Union's Luna 24 in 1976.

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