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January 1 2014

Lunar orbiter snaps photos of Chinese lander and rover from 93 miles up

LRO’s orbit took it far from the landing site when Chang’e 3 first touched down on lunar soil on Dec. 14. Ten days later, when its orbit swung over the site, the spacecraft took six pairs of images during the next 36 hours. The highest resolution pictures were shot early afternoon Christmas Day when it passed almost directly over the lander and rover at an altitude of 93 miles (150 km).

Since the rover is just under 5 feet (150 cm) long it’s amazing that it shows up as well as it does. There are two reasons for this: its highly reflective solar panels and the probe’s long shadow cast near the end of lunar day.

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