China's scientific expedition to the Moon has sent back its first photos of the lunar surface. A robot called the Jade Rabbit became the first vehicle to traverse the Moon's volcanic ash since America's Apollo missions four decades ago. Scientists at China's mission control were ecstatic as the first high-quality images came through of an area of the Moon known as the Bay of Rainbows. The photos showed the rover with theChinese flag clearly visible against the dark of space. Jade Rabbit is expected to test soil samples ahead of the possible mining of the Moon's rocks and minerals. A Chinese scientist said: "China's lunar programme is an important component of mankind's activities to explore the peaceful use of space."
The South China Morning Post described the Moon landing as a landmark achievement in Chinese history. It wrote: "The world long ago sat up and took notice of China's rapid rise as a space power….But nothing compares with the scientific and technological significance of the landing on the moon at 9.12 on Saturday night." It said the mission, "has transformed China's dream of putting a man on the moon into a given; soonerrather than later". China's science fiction writers are also overjoyed with their country's success. Chen Qiufan described his vision of the future, saying: "I think everything will look differently when a Chinese person looks at Earth from the Moon." He added: "I expect that day will come."