On Saturday, China became just the third nation to land on the moon (after the United States and Russia). The Chang'e 3 lander delivered the Yutu lunar rover, which will study the Earth, moon, and other astronomical objects. The rover has radar that can study the structure of the moon in unprecedented detail; it can probe down to over 100 feet below the surface. It landed in the Bay of Rainbows, which is surrounded by mountains and considered to be one of the most beautiful lunar features. Yutu means "jade rabbit", and in Chinese legend, it accompanies the goddess Chang'e to the moon. This is the first spacecraft to land on the moon since the Soviet Union landed a lunar probe in 1976.
Yutu has also begun sending us the first pictures of the lunar surface in over four decades. Similar to the images of the moon brought to us by the Apollo astronauts, these pictures have the potential to inspire an entire new generation of scientists. This mission also tests technology that can be used for more advanced future missions. The lander was built to carry almost 4000 lbs, but the Yutu rover only weighs about a tenth of that. It will be exciting to see what comes next!