|Photo of Chang'e-3 moon lander taken by the camera on Yutu moon rover during the mutual-photograph process. The moon rover and the moon lander took photos of each other Sunday night, marking the complete success of the Chang'e-3 lunar probe mission. (Photo/ CNR.CN)|
BEIJING, Dec. 22 -- China's first moon rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, continued patrol explorations on the lunar surface after taking photos of the lander for the fifth and final time early on Sunday.
According to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), images transmitted to the ground after the latest photos were captured showed for the first time the national flags on both Yutu and the lander.
Pictures of the lander's five-star red flag could not be taken during previous photo-shooting operations because the flag's position was not facing the camera.
The latest photo operations will be the last in which the lander and rover take photos of each other.
Yutu separated from the lander on Dec. 15, several hours after China's lunar probe Chang'e-3 soft-landed on the moon on Dec. 14.
The moon rover and the lander took photos of each other for the first time on the night of December 15. Color images transmitted live during the first photo operation only showed the Chinese national flag on Yutu.
The rover began to circle the lander after the two took their first photos of each other, with a four-day break that lasted from Dec. 16 to Dec. 20, during which the six-wheeled rover shut down its subsystems, according to SASTIND.
Yutu will survey the moon's geological structure and surface substances and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will conduct in situ exploration at the landing site for one year.
The Chang'e-3 mission makes China the third country, after the Soviet Union and the United States, to soft-land a spacecraft on lunar soil.
The mission also marks the full completion of the second phase of China's lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.
After the mission, China's lunar program will enter a new stage of unmanned automatic sampling and return, which will include Chang'e-5 and 6 missions.
China plans to launch lunar probe Chang'e-5 in 2017, according to SASTIND.