China's 'Jade Rabbit' Moon Rover Stars in Stunning Lunar Panorama (Photos)
This is a cropped version of a five-position 360-degree panorama of the Chang'e-3, Yutu Rover landing site created by Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo. It was stitched from individual pictures released to a state-run China news outlet. The initial panoramic was then enhanced to improve contrast, lighting and uniformity, which revealed more detail.
Credit: CNSA/Chinanews/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo | kenkremer.com

China's first moon rover and lander appear in spectacular detail in an amazing new panoramic image of the lunar surface stitched together from photos from the Chang'e 3 mission released via the country's state-run news outlets.

The new image shows China's Yutu moon rover (the name means "Jade Rabbit") passing a crater (toward the right in), as well as a final orientation that gives the viewer a good look at the Jade Rabbit's tracks (far right) as it cruises away from the lander. The image is five-position, composite time-lapse that offer a 360-degree view of the landing site around the Chang'e 3 lander and its Yutu rover.

This image is a five-position 360-degree panorama of the Chang'e-3, Yutu Rover landing site created by Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo. It was stitched from individual pictures released to a state-run China news outlet. The initial panoramic was then enhanced to improve contrast, lighting and uniformity, which revealed more detail.
This image is a five-position 360-degree panorama of the Chang'e-3, Yutu Rover landing site created by Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo. It was stitched from individual pictures released to a state-run China news outlet. The initial panoramic was then enhanced to improve contrast, lighting and uniformity, which revealed more detail.
Credit: CNSA/Chinanews/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo kenkremer.com

Photographer and writer Ken Kremer and his colleagues put together this new panoramic image by using individual images from the Chang'e 3 lander, as well as its Yutu rover, to show how the rover moves. [See more photos from China's Chang'e 3 moon mission]

This composite image shows Chang'e-3, Yutu Rover landing site created by Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo as well as an LRO orbital image taken by the LROC NAC camera showing correlating positions from orbit and the surface. The red bars show the approximate field of view of the Chang'e-3 lander panorama.
This composite image shows Chang'e-3, Yutu Rover landing site created by Ken Kremer and Marco Di Lorenzo as well as an LRO orbital image taken by the LROC NAC camera showing correlating positions from orbit and the surface. The red bars show the approximate field of view of the Chang'e-3 lander panorama.
Credit: CNSA/NASA/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo/Mark Robinson

"I found a few new images of Yutu to superimpose onto our original panorama," Kremer wrote Space.com in an email. The "original" panoramic image Kremer refers to can be seen here.

The team matched these rover positions to precisely match with the lunar terrain at each exact location. The Kremer and his partners adjusted the rover size and color balance to give a realistic view of what it looks like to scale as it drives from the lander. 

China's Chang'e 3 mission landed on the moon on Dec. 14, 2013. The mission is China's first lunar landing mission and follows two earlier moon-orbiting missions using the Chang'e 1 and 2 spacecraft. The missions are named after the moon goddess Chang'e 3 in Chinese mythology. The Yutu rover is named for the rabbit pet of the Chang'e goddess.

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