According to a story on Leonard David’s blog, Chinese space officials recently released new images of the Moon that are focused on the landing site of the country’s future Chang’e 5 lunar lander.

Target date for China’s ambitious robotic Moon probe mission is in 2017.

Chang’e 5 is slated to be a soft land on the moon to snag surface specimens, fly them into lunar orbit, then rocket those samples back to Earth.

Circumlunar mission

According to the story, a statement by the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), said the pictures have a resolution of roughly 3 feet (one meter).

The images were taken by China’s orbiting service module that was sent circling the Moon after a visit to the Earth-Moon Lagrangian L2 position last year.

That service module was boosted on a Long March 3C  rocket from China on October 24, 2014. It was part of China’s circumlunar mission that also saw flight of an experimental capsule – often called the Chang’ e 5-T1 test mission – that made a fiery, skip re-entry and parachute landing back to Earth. The capsule was recovered in Siziwangqi in Inner Mongolia of China on November 1, 2014.

Shakeout voyage

The long looping roundtrip between Earth and the Moon, then having the service module park itself in lunar orbit, mimics a variety of shakeout actions to be taken by the Chang’e 5 robotic lunar exploration project.

SASTIND noted that the current service module circuiting the Moon is in good condition and will carry out further scientific experiments to study the lunar gravity field.