China has begun designing and manufacturing the flight model entity of its third lunar probe, Chang'e-3, according to the administration of China's lunar probe project.
As a key part of the second step of China's three-phase lunar probe projects, the Chang'e-3 mission has entered the flight mode phase from prototype phase, according to a statement from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) on Tuesday.
The third probe will carry a lunar rover and other instruments for land surveys, living conditions assessment, and space observations.
Chang'e-3 is scheduled to be launched in 2013. Its predecessor, Chang'e-2 was launched on October, 2010.
Earlier last month, China published a full coverage map as well as several high-resolution images of the moon captured by Chang'e-2, which are the highest-resolution photos of the entirety of the moon's surface thus far.
Also in the SASTIND statement, China has started the comprehensive construction of its high-resolution earth observation system.
China will begin to develop a new-type satellite for the construction of the system from 2013. The system is expected to be set up around 2020, said the statement.
As one of China's 16 major scientific projects set in its national outline for scientific and technological development (2006-2020), the system will be used to provide information service and policy-making support for fields such as modern agriculture, disaster prevention and reduction and public security.
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2012)