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Space Museum holding exhibition on Chang'e programme

The Chang'e 1, China's first lunar satellite, is scheduled to be launched tonight (October 24) at Xichang, marking a milestone in China's moon exploration programme. Details of the programme are now featured in the Hong Kong Space Museum's "Fly Me to the Moon" exhibition.

In 2004, China officially launched the Chang'e Programme, a lunar exploration project named after the fairy of the legend. The Chang'e Programme features three phases - "orbiting","landing" and"returning" and all will be carried out by unmanned spacecraft.

The first phase "Orbiting" means lunar orbiting exploration. According to the programme, a lunar orbiter "Chang'e 1" will be launched tonight and will orbit the Moon at an altitude of 200km above the surface. It will take 3-dimensional images of the moon's surface and detect the lunar composition.

The second phase "Landing" means soft landing on the Moon and surveying by a lunar rover. A lunar lander is scheduled to be launched to the Moon around 2012. Having landed on the lunar surface, the lander will release a lunar rover to conduct a detailed survey on the topography and geological structure of the landing site and its surrounding terrain.

The third phase "Returning" means collecting and returning lunar soil samples to Earth. It is scheduled to launch a lunar sampler for automatic collection of lunar samples around 2020. After landing on the lunar surface, this sampler will collect rock and soil samples and send them back to Earth for studying the origin and evolution of the Moon.

Since the 1960s, more than 100 lunar exploration missions, more than half of them successful, have been carried out by countries all over the world. As a result, a great deal of scientific data about the Moon has been obtained.

Being China's first spacecraft for lunar exploration, Chang'e 1 not only represents the breakthrough of China's remote satellite technology and detection of the Earth-Moon space environment, but also serves as an initiative to fill the gaps of previous lunar exploration missions. There are four major science objectives for the "Orbiting (Chang'e 1) Phase" of the lunar exploration programme: producing three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, detecting the composition of the lunar surface, probing the lunar soil, and exploring the cislunar space environment.

Apart from the introduction of the missions of Chang'e 1, its scientific instruments, flight sequence and tracking, the exhibition also features Japan's latest mission to the Moon, "Kaguya" (Selene) and space exploration in the past 50 years. The exhibition will run until December 31 and admission is free.

The Space Museum is located at 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. It opens from 1 pm to 9 pm on Mondays, Wednesday to Friday and 10 am to 9 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays).

For further information, please call 2721 0226 or visit the Museum's website at .

Ends/Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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