China's lunar rover successfully touched down on the surface of the moon just after 9 p.m. Bejing time. By 4:35 a.m. on Sunday morning, the Yutu rover, or "Jade Rabbit" had successfully deployed on the surface of the moon. This makes China just the third nation to successfully reach the moon, after the United States and the former Soviet Union. It was also the first visit anyone has paid the moon's surface in nearly 40 years.
It happened almost timidly, but slow and steady won the race for China's Jade Rabbit as it ever so gently lowered itself onto the surface of the moon. Solar cells were unfurled and tested before the lunar rover finally cut its umbilical cord and was loosed upon the moon's surface. Those solar cells will power Jade Rabbit for the duration of its three-month mission of lunar exploration.
Equipped with multiple cameras, a spectrometer and ground-penetrating radar, China's lunar lander and rover will work in tandem to retrieve previously unattainable levels of detail concerning the composition of the moon's surface. The rover's radar equipment, for instance, is capable of penetrating over 300 feet below the lunar surface. The rover's landing site, known as the Bay of Rainbows, is actually visible with the naked eye. It's located along the upper left quarter of the moon's Earth-facing side.
We'll be following the Jade Rabbit's exploration closely over the next three months, but for now, you can bask in the glory that humanity is once again poking around on the moon with robots.