It's been a busy weekend for China's moon mission Chang'e 3. After a successful landing on Saturday, the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center commanded the lander's rover to roll onto the lunar surface early Sunday morning (Beijing Time). Now, a beautiful video has been released of the full landing sequence, shown here.
At approximately 3 minutes into the video, the Chang'e 3 lander rotates to begin its vertical descent onto Sinus Iridum (the Bay of Rainbows), an ancient lava plain in the moon's northern hemisphere. The descent onto lunar regolith had a very Apollo-landing feel as the lander's thrusters blew moon dust away from the landing site at around the 6 minute mark. Then, as the lander reached 4 meters from the surface, its engines switched off, causing the robot to drop, unaided, the rest of the way.
More Discovery News coverage of China's moon landing:
China's Rover Rolls! Yutu Begins Moon Mission China Lands Rover on The Moon Is China About to Scoop the Google Lunar XPRIZE?
Video credit: Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center