Looking ahead to spacecraft activities in 2013

Posted By Emily Lakdawalla

2013/01/04 01:09 CST

Hello, 2013! I’m looking forward to a fun year in planetary exploration — but then every year is a fun year. What’s ahead?

First of all, there are four solar system launches planned.

The biggest solar system launch of this year was one that I must admit I knew nothing whatever about until this week. I vaguely knew that there was a Chang’E 3 in the Chinese mission pipeline, but I hadn’t clued in that it was a soft lander. And it’s a big one, tipping the scales at 1200 kilograms. That’s heavier than Curiosity. Like Curiosity, it’ll have an RTG to provide power and heat. And while the lander itself is immobile, it will deploy a 100-kilogram rover. According to this post on nasaspaceflight.com, the lander will be equipped with a near-UV optical telescope for astronomical observation; a far-UV camera for studying Earth’s ionosphere; a sounding radar; several optical cameras; and a soil probe. The rover will carry optical cameras and an APXS. I’m working on a longer post about this mission, because it’s an exciting one. I don’t actually know what the launch date is, only that it’s supposed to be later this year. Assembly began last March.

Read more: Looking ahead to spacecraft activities in 2013 | The Planetary Society.

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