China’s jade rabbit soft-lands on the moon

China’s lunar probe Chang’e-3, with the country’s first moon rover onboard, successfully landed on the moon on Saturday night, marking the first time that China has sent a spacecraft to soft land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.

The lunar probe began to carry out soft-landing on the moon at 9 p.m. Saturday and touched down in Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows, 11 minutes later, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

During the process, the probe decelerated from 15 km above the moon, stayed hovering at 100 meters from the lunar surface to use sensors to assess the landing area to avoid obstacles and locate the final landing spot, and descended slowly onto the surface.

The success made China the third country, after the United States and the Soviet Union, to soft-land on the moon…

Chang’e-3 relied on auto-control for descent, range and velocity measurements, finding the proper landing point, and free-falling…

Chang’e-3 includes a lander and a moon rover called “Yutu” (Jade Rabbit).

Yutu’s tasks include surveying the moon’s geological structure and surface substances and looking for natural resources. The lander will operate there for one year while the rover will be there for three months.

Chang’e-3 is part of the second phase of China’s lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to the Earth. It follows the success of the Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010.

The successful landing shows China has the ability of in-situ exploration on an extraterrestrial body, said Sun Huixian, deputy engineer-in-chief in charge of the second phase of China’s lunar program…

Chang’e-3 is the world’s first soft-landing of a probe on the moon in nearly four decades. The last such soft-landing was carried out by the Soviet Union in 1976…

For an ancient civilization like China, landing on the moon embodies another meaning. The moon, a main source for inspiration, is one of the most important themes in Chinese literature and ancient Chinese myths, including that about Chang’e, a lady who took her pet “Yutu” to fly toward the moon, where she became a goddess.

“Though people have discovered that the moon is bleached and desolate, it doesn’t change its splendid role in Chinese traditional culture,” said Zhang Yiwu, a professor with Peking University.

“Apart from scientific exploration, the lunar probe is a response to China’s traditional culture and imagination. China’s lunar program will proceed with the beautiful legends,” Zhang said.

Bravo! The space geeks in my extended family have always preferred the concept of eventually building a moonbase instead of the International Space Station. Since that is the plan of China’s combined space agency, we’ll get a chance to see if we were as farsighted as we absolutely think we are. 🙂

“Subway Goddess” arrested for pole dances


Click for video – WARNING: NSFW

A stripper who danced on the poles of Santiago subway trains to challenge the prudishness of Chilean society has been arrested during one of her lightning performances.

Monserrat Morilles, 26, surprised subway riders all week stripping to skimpy underwear, but she refused tips.

She said she was protesting a lack of tolerance in Chile, one of Latin America’s most conservative societies where the first generation since the Pinochet dictatorship is reaching adulthood.

“This is just a beginning. We are starting an idea here that will grow and be developed further,” she told Reuters as police and subway guards surrounded her.

I’d be happy just to have the mass transit. I could commute without exciting entertainment.

With the king of Nepal out of a job, who gets to appoint the goddess?

Nepal’s religious authorities picked the country’s next “living goddess,” or Kumari, in a centuries-old tradition on Friday, priests and officials said, but the question now is who will appoint her as a deity.

Traditionally, the head priest of the now-deposed King Gyanendra appointed the “living goddess” but with the abolition of Nepal’s monarchy on May 29, that position no longer exists.

“We have requested the government for directives as to who should appoint Kumari now,” said Semanta Raj Chapagain, chief of the state-run Trust Corporation overseeing cultural affairs…

Religious authorities in the ancient temple town of Bhaktapur, on Friday selected a six-year-old child, Shreeya, to replace her predecessor, Sajani Shakya, who retired earlier this year, after being worshipped by devout Hindus and Buddhists for nine years as the Kumari of Bhaktapur.

Certainly, they’ll find some theocrat to offer appropriate advice. Although it does seem to be a job description in decline.