China's orbiter survives lunar eclipse
Beijing: China's solar-powered lunar probe satellite Chang'e-2 has successfully stood the test of a lunar eclipse and hours of flying in complete darkness.
The orbiter, launched October 1, flew out of the shadow at 17.57 (0957 GMT) Tuesday, Zhou Jianliang, deputy chief engineer at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), said Wednesday.
It entered the shadow at 14.50 Tuesday. During the three hours when the orbiter was obscured from the sun's rays by the earth, it relied solely on battery power and experienced temperatures of around 200 degrees Celsius below zero, Zhou was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
While in the shadow, it could not be directly controlled from earth and relied on pre-set instructions. It was the first time the orbiter had experienced a lunar eclipse.
Zhou said the European Space Agency had provided tracing and monitoring support for Chang'e-2 during the six hours before the probe entered the shadow, when it was out of reach of China's monitoring stations.
Chang'e-2, named after a legendary Chinese moon goddess, entered its long-term lunar orbit Nov 3 and has begun capturing images of the moon's Sinus Iridum, or Bay of Rainbows.
Celebrating the success of Chang'e-2, President Hu Jintao hailed the project as another achievement in China's lunar exploration programme and a result of its drive to build an innovation-oriented nation.
China's first lunar probe Chang'e-1 was launched in October 2007 and ended its 16-month mission in March 2009.