China's moon probe drifts into outer space

China's moon probe drifts into outer space

The orbiter left its moon orbit at 5:10 pm, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND).

The orbiter had finished all its tasks within its designed life span of six months by April 1. Scientists decided to let it carry out additional exploratory works as the orbiter still had fuel in reserve.

Travelling into outer space from the moon's orbit is the most important task among five other additional ones, according to the SASTIND. Scientists hope the satellite can continue operations until the end of next year, state-run Xinhua reported.

The solar-powered probe was launched on October 1 last year to deepen China's knowledge of the moon and collect information for moon-landing for the country's future orbiters. Chang'e-2, named after a legendary Chinese moon goddess accomplished its mission to test key soft-landing technologies for the Chang'e-3 and provided high-resolution photographs of the landing area.

Chang'e-3 is scheduled to be launched in 2013 to land on the lunar surface with rover explore moon. Chang'e-2, that entered its long-term lunar orbit in November last, captured a great amount of scientific data, Chinese officials said.It provided close up pictures of moon's Sinus Iridum, or Bay of Rainbows, the planned landing site for  Chang'e-3.

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