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China invites public to name spacecraft
SOURCE: Xinhua     UPDATED: 2013-09-30

BEIJING, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- China is inviting the public to name a spacecraft on board China's Chang'e-3 lunar probe, expected to be launched by the end of the year, a senior space scientist said on Wednesday.

The public can submit proposals at www.xinhuanet.com and www.qq.com starting Wednesday, and the name will be unveiled in November after several selection rounds, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar probe program.

"The spacecraft, designed with a mass of 140 kg, will be fueled by solar energy," Wu said, adding that some prize-winners will be invited to watch the launch of Chang'e-3 in person.

The craft will be able to endure vacuum conditions, intense radiation and extreme temperatures ranging from minus 180 degrees Celsius to 150 degrees Celsius on the surface of the moon, the designer said.

The spacecraft will be equipped with devices such as a panorama camera and radar measurement equipment, according to Wu, adding that the craft will run automatically and carry out patrol and detection missions on the lunar surface.

The Chang'e-3 moon probe is expected to land and stay on the moon as part of the second stage of the country's lunar probe program, marking the first time a Chinese spacecraft will land on the surface of an extraterrestrial body.

China launched Chang'e-1 in 2007 and Chang'e-2 in 2010. The first probe retrieved a large amount of scientific data and a completed map of the moon, while the second created a full high-resolution map of the moon and a high-definition image of the Sinus Iridium, one of the moon's features.