China's Moon Rover Sends Back First Pics
Mission declared 'complete success'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2013 2:23 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2013 7:03 AM CST
This photo of the "Jade Rabbit" rover was taken by the Change'e 3 lander.   (AP Photo / Xinhua)
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(Newser) – China has declared the first rover mission to the moon in more than 40 years a "complete success," with the first photos sent back from its Jade Rabbit rover, the BBC reports. The rover—photographed by the lander after it separated from the vehicle yesterday—sent back color photos of the lander as the nation's leaders waited in the Beijing Aerospace Control Center. The 300-pound rover will soon begin its mission to gather data and scout for mineral resources that could someday be mined.

China's leaders—who hailed the successful landing as a "new glory" for China and an "outstanding contribution" to humanity's peaceful use of space—are already looking ahead to future moon missions, the AP finds. The Chang'e 3 lander's mission will be followed by a Chang'e 4 to do more research and a Chang'e 5 in 2017 to bring back lunar soil and rock samples—and pave the way for sending a Chinese astronaut to the moon sometime after 2020.