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Moon Surface Map Unveiled

Chinese scientists revealed the country's first full map of the moon's surface on Wednesday, more than a year after the launch of its first lunar probe, Chang'e I.

The picture of the moon surface, unveiled on Wednesday, covered the complete range of areas on the moon surface, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, which is in charge of the country's moon program.

Scientists created the map with the image data captured by the satellite-borne camera on the Chang'e I, administration vice director Sun Laiyan told reporters.

It was the most complete image of the moon surface, and also the richest in detail, among similar pictures published so far, according to experts with the country's moon probe program.

The lunar probe was originally designed to cover the moon surface within 70 degrees south and north latitudes. However, the camera was in a good condition to get high-definition image data of the south and north poles of the moon as well.

The map was presented to the National Museum of China at the press conference, but the museum's curator did not say when it would be on public display.

"Chang'e I has completed its one-year operation and scientific exploration, and this marked the successful completion of the country's first-phase moon mission," said administration director Chen Qiufa.

Chen also said China planned to launch its second lunar probe, Chang'e II, before the end of 2011.

The launch of Chang'e I in October last year was the first step of China's three-stage moon mission, and a moon landing and the launch of a moon rover at around 2012 was planned for the second stage.

In the third phase, another rover will land on the moon and return to earth with lunar soil and stone samples for scientific research at around 2017.

(Xinhua News Agency November 13, 2008)

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