Feeds

Chinese spacecraft JUUUUST avoids smashing into Toutatis

Chang'e-2 snaps pics during close shave with spud-shaped space rock

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Chinese probe Chang'e-2 has successfully flown by Toutatis, an asteroid named for the Celtic deity often invoked by cartoon characters Asterix and Obelix.

4179 Toutatis, to give the object its full name, has an orbit that brings it very close to Earth's, before swinging out into Jupiter's neighbourhood. Last week that orbit brought the rock close enough to Earth that China's Chang'e-2 was able to close within a few kilometres and grab some snaps.

China's space agency, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), isn't a patch on NASA when it comes to publicising discoveries with shiny pictures, but has let it be known the encounter means China has joined the ranks of nations capable of meeting asteroids in space, albeit in a junior capacity.

Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar probe program told Xinhua: "The success of the extended missions also embodies that China now possesses spacecraft capable of interplanetary flight.”

Just what Chang'e-2 found out about Toutatis isn't known at the time of writing, as only the images below have been released at the time of writing.

Photos of Asteroid 4179 Toutatis

Asteroid 4179 Toutatis
Source: news.xinhuanet.com/photo

Sharp-eyed Reg readers may, however, be wondering why Weiren, whose title relates to lunar exploration, is talking about asteroid encounters. Weiren's been quoted because Chang'e-2's first priority was a lunar mapping mission. That was achieved, capturing a seven-metre resolution map of the moon's surface for posterity using some clever orbit planning.

A diagram showing the extended mission of China's Chang'e 2 probe

A diagram showing the extended mission of China's Chang'e-2 probe
Source: news.xinhuanet.com/photo,

Chang'e-2 is now bound for the outer reaches of the solar system. That China was able to nudge it into an encouter with Toutatis augurs well for its ability to make other interesting visits along the way. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.