Hong Kong Polytechnic University Professor Yung Kai-leung is breathing a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge the camera system he has developed for China’s Chang’e-3 moon landing mission has survived the extreme conditions of space and has been working well some 384,400 kilometres away on the moon.
Yung, speaking to the South China Morning Post from Beijing where he is monitoring the operation of his camera pointing system, said he “felt very proud of being able to play a part in China’s lunar programme.”
“So far, the device has been working very well and is in good working condition,” said Yung, whose space instrument is designed to support the camera on the Chang’e-3.
As with all equipment on moon missions, the system is facing a stringent series of challenges, working in extreme temperatures within a vacuum.
“Our device is designed to be able to work properly even at temperatures of 70 degrees or 80 degrees [Celsius]. Many pictures have been beamed back to earth. So, I am getting more confident that the device will be fine,” Yung said.
He also said his 2.8kg system had the ability to fix problems independently in case of something going wrong. It is used to hold and control the direction of a camera mounted on top of Chang’e-3.
It was the first time an instrument developed and produced in Hong Kong has been used in China’s lunar programme since its launch in 2007.
Professor Yung, who will return to Hong Kong on Monday night, will continue work on a rock-scooping device, with the aim of having it installed on China’s unmanned Chang’e-5 rocket, which is scheduled to land on the moon in 2017.