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China’s “Yutu” Moon Rover Ready for Liftoff

China's Yutu Moon Rover. Courtesy China Space

On Mars there’s Curiosity, Spirit and Opportunity – veteran NASA robot rovers of the Red Planet.

But add a new mobile robot’s name to the space exploration history books.

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, the “Yutu” or Jade Rabbit is the name for the country’s first Moon rover, ready for liftoff in early December.

“Yutu is a symbol of kindness, purity and agility, and is identical to the Moon rover in both outlook and connotation,” said Li Benzheng, deputy commander-in-chief of China’s lunar program.

The moon rover is part of the Chang’e-3 lunar lander mission, now being prepared for departure early next month.

Yutu is scheduled to land on the Moon in the middle of December and explore the lunar landscape for three months. If all goes well, the Chang’e-3 mission marks the first time a Chinese spacecraft will have soft-landed on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.

The six-wheel rover has two solar panels and weighs nearly 310 pounds (140 kilograms).

By Leonard David

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