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[BRIEF NOTE] On Chang'E 2's imaging of asteroid 4179 Toutatis

Taken from Emily Lakdawalla's Planetary Society blog, this picture shows the images of asteroid 4179 Toutatis taken on the 13th of December, 2012, by China's Chang'E 2 probe.

Chang'E 2 images of Toutatis - December 13, 2012


A commenter at the blog translates the official commentary as follows.

China's National defense industrial agency today announces a new breakthrough in China's lunar and space exploration. CE-2 has successfully executed a close fly-by of the Toutatis asteroid at a distance of approximately 7 million km from earth; this is the first time any nation has made such close examination of the asteroid. This breakthrough also signifies that China is the fourth country, after the US, the ESA, and Japan, which has the capability to explore asteroids. At 1630 on December 13, CE-2 responded to commands and approached and made a close fly-by of the Toutatis asteroid. Relative speed was 10.73 km/s; closest distance was 3.2 km from the asteroid. CE-2 used its on-board star observation cameras to capture images from the asteroid. Chief lunar exploration engineer Wu Wei-Ren says "We completed our mission very well today; this is our first time exploring asteroid". News anchor: "This is the world's first close-distance image capture of the Toutatis asteroid. It not only proves Ce-2's orbit design and navigation control but it also realizes China's improvement in its reach for space going from 400,000 km (moon) out to 7 million km from earth". Lunar exploration control project's assistant chief engineer Zhou Jian-Liang says "Sending a lunar exploration space ship that has fulfilled its mission to such an orbit is very challenging." "Our propulsion system was designed for long life; using x-band to send data back to earth from such a long distance is also difficult", says CE-2's assistant chief system engineer Wang xiao-Lei says. The completion of the extended mission by Ce-2 also means the satelite has successfully completed its overall mission. CE-2 was launched on October 1, 2010; After it successfully completed its six planned primary engineering and four scienctific missions at the moon; it flew to the L2 point about 1.5 million km from earth then to the Toutatis asteroid about 7 milliom km from earth. Exceeding at each station China's lunar and deep space exploration achievement.
Tags: asteroids, china, moon, space science, space travel
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