A breathtaking new video shows the vertiginous descent of China's new Chang'e-3 lunar probe -- and showcases the rise of that nation's increasingly ambitious space program.
Chinese State Television released the video of the lunar landing, which took place Saturday, Dec. 14. Check it out in the YouTube clip above from Russia Today.
"It's still a significant technological challenge to land on another world," Peter Bond, consultant editor for Jane's Space Systems and Industry, told the Associated Press. "Especially somewhere like the moon, which doesn't have an atmosphere so you can't use parachutes or anything like that. You have to use rocket motors for the descent and you have to make sure you go down at the right angle and the right rate of descent and you don't end up in a crater on top of a large rock."
The landing vehicle carried China's first moon rover Yutu, or "Jade Rabbit." The six-wheeled, 300-pound rover will collect 3D images and take soil samples as parts of its mission to better understand the moon's surface and its atmosphere.
The video is reminiscent of the video shot by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as they guided their lunar module to the moon's surface back in 1969.