Watch China's Chang'e 3 land on the Moon!

This weekend, China became the third country in history to put a spacecraft on the Moon with the soft-landing touchdown of its Chang'e 3 probe and deployment of the Yutu rover. Here now for your viewing pleasure is the footage of its picturesque lunar arrival.


The video lasts six and a half minutes and captures Chang'e 3's trip from lunar orbit to the surface of the Moon, all from the perspective of the lander itself. It's rare that we get to see a spacecraft's view of its own landing (the last time we had a glimpse of video like this was when NASA's Curiosity Rover made touchdown on Mars back in August 2012), so raw footage like this is a real treat.


The rover can be seen descending at an angle for the first few minutes and rotating upright around the 2:51 mark, at which point it descends straight down toward the Moon's surface. It continues on this path until 5:15, at which point it hovers in place and uses its onboard equipment to select a safe landing spot. The descent then resumes until the lander is situated just 13 feet above the surface, at which point its engines cut out and it drops safely to the ground.

h/t astrobob!


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