Beijing: China has begun designing and manufacturing the flight model entity of its third lunar probe due to to be launched next year.
`Chang`e-3` is expected to place a rover on the Moon to explore its surface.
As a key part of the second step of China`s three-phase lunar probe projects, the Chang`e-3 mission has entered the flight mode phase from prototype phase, from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said in a statement today.
The third probe will carry a lunar rover and other instruments for land surveys, living conditions assessment, and space observations.
Chang`e-3 is scheduled to be launched in 2013. Its predecessor, Chang`e-2 was launched on Oct last year.
Earlier last month, China published a full coverage map as well as several high-resolution images of the moon captured by Chang`e-2, which are the highest-resolution photos of the entirety of the Moon`s surface thus far.
The SASTIND also statement said China has started the comprehensive construction of its high-resolution earth observation system. China will begin to develop a new-type satellite for the construction of the system from 2013.
The system is expected to be set up around 2020, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
As one of China`s 16 major scientific projects set in its national outline for scientific and technological development (2006-2020), the system will be used to provide information service and policy-making support for fields such as modern agriculture, disaster prevention and reduction and public security, it said.