China deploys 'Jade Rabbit' rover on moon

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China has become the third country to complete a lunar rover mission on the surface of the moon.

China has deployed its lunar rover vehicle on the surface of the moon, after carrying out the first soft landing on Earth's satellite since 1976 in a major step for the country's space program.

The Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, rover was deployed on the moon's surface at 4:35am (0735 AEDT on Sunday) several hours after the Chang'e-3 probe landed, according to official news agency Xinhua.

China's CCTV posted the following video:

The deployment makes China the third country to complete a lunar rover mission, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

Citing the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre, Xinhua said the rover "has touched the lunar surface". The agency tweeted an image, apparently taken from the probe, showing the rover leaving tracks in the dust behind it as it rolled away.

Earlier, scientists burst into applause as a computer-generated image representing the Chang'e-3 probe was seen landing on the moon's surface via screens at a Beijing control centre, state broadcaster Chinese Central Television (CCTV) showed.

"Chang'e-3 has successfully carried out a soft landing on the moon. This makes China the world's third nation to achieve a lunar soft landing," the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in an online post on the mission's official page on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter equivalent.

The landing came 12 days after blast-off and was the first of its kind since the former Soviet Union's mission nearly four decades ago.

Many Chinese took to the country's internet message boards expressing joy at the news, which Xinhua described as a "historic breakthrough" in an emotional editorial.

"Space exploration is the cause of mankind, not just 'the patent' of a certain country," the commentary said.

"China will share the achievements of its lunar exploration with the whole world and use them to benefit humanity."

The editorial also cited President Xi Jinping's slogan for Chinese advancement, saying that the lunar bid "once again lights up the China Dream".

The landing marks the latest step in an ambitious space program seen as a symbol of China's rising global stature and technological advancement, as well as the Communist Party's success in reversing the fortunes of the once-impoverished nation.

It comes a decade after the country first sent an astronaut into space, and ahead of plans to establish a permanent space station by 2020 and eventually send a human to the moon.

Source AAP

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