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First lunar picture due on Nov 6
2007-10-22 03:06:15 Shanghai Daily


The Long March 3A rocket and a lunar orbiter, the Chang'e One, which are under wrap, sits on the launch pad at the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, in southwest China's Sichuan province, October 20, 2007. China will launch its first lunar orbiter at the end of October as it counts down to putting a man on the moon within 15 years, state media said. (REUTERS/China Daily)

CHINA'S first lunar probe Chang'e I will send back its first picture of the moon on November 6 if it blasts off and enters its orbit as scheduled, the Beijing News reported today.

"When we receive the picture, we will publish it within an hour without any modification," Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of the lunar project, told the newspaper.

Chang'e I is set to take off this week from the Xichang Launch Center in Sichuan Province. Its mission will include shooting three-dimensional pictures of the lunar surface, analyzing its substance and measuring its thickness.

Experts involved in the project yesterday suggested at the center that Chang'e I is expected to accomplish its mission within three months. After that, it will continue to revolve around the moon to conduct further research for another nine months, the report said.

Experts also said another back-up satellite "similar in design" will serve as a model to detect problems should the mission of Chang'e I fail. But if the mission goes smoothly, it will be improved to qualify for future missions, the report said.

The launch will depend on the weather. "Drizzle will not influence the launch, but if there is lightening or thunder, it will be delayed," a space center employee told the newspaper.

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