Wednesday, August 5, 2009

China to finish high-resolution topographic lunar map by September - Xinhua

Global lunar surface albedo mosaic (main image reduced 90 percent) assembled from data collected by China's first lunar orbiter Chang'E-1 (2007-2009). Though the huge image was unveiled in the Great Hall of the People in November, few bought the Party line about it's unique originality. Few would want to diminish China's accomplishment, becoming the third nation, behind the U.S. and Russia (USSR) and ahead of Japan and India, to successfully place a durable remote sensing satellite in lunar orbit.

Beijing, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- China will complete a 3D topographic map of the moon by the end of September, according to a chief designer with the project on Wednesday, calling the map the "clearest" in the world.

"Currently, most of the lunar topographic maps were made by data acquired by laser altimeter instruments. With the large amount of highly-detailed images taken by Chang'e-1, the map we are making will be of the highest resolution in the world," Li Chunlai, chief designer of the ground application system with the project, told Xinhua Wednesday.

Chang'e-1 acquired more than 9 million pieces of valid elevation data, which enabled the country's scientists to make a topographic map with 3-kilometer resolution per pixel, said Li, also a senior official with the National Astronomical Observatories under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The topographic map will serve as a guide for future lunar rovers to search the moon surface for geological resources.

According to an earlier report of Science Daily, an international research team published the most detailed topographic lunar map in the Feb. 13 issue of journal Science. The resolution was 15-kilometer per pixel.

In November 2008, China created the country's first full map of the lunar surface with the image data captured by the satellite-born camera on Chang'e-1.

China launched its lunar mission in 2007 by successfully sending the unmanned probe Chang'e-1, the country's first lunar probe, to the orbit.

On March 1, the probe hit the moon and ended its 16-month mission, which wrapped up the first phase of the country's three-stage moon mission.

The second stage is to land and launch a rover vehicle on the moon around 2012 and the third is to recover a spacecraft carrying samples from the moon by 2017.

Previous reports said that Chinese scientists were also considering the feasibility of a manned lunar landing mission at an appropriate time between 2025 and 2030.

Editor: Xiong Tong

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