China is working on a new rover that will begin exploring the lunar south pole in 2026, and the Chang’e 7 mission is part of a recently approved new phase of Chinese lunar exploration that will target the moon’s south pole and far side.
According to Space, the Chang’e 7 mission will consist of an orbiter, a lander, a rover and a small flying explorer that can travel to shadowed craters to search for evidence of water ice. The mission will also be supported by a new communications relay satellite.
The rover in Chang’e 7 will be slightly larger than the one in Chang’e 4, in terms of size, it is designed to carry different tools, and it is almost the same structure, and the rover will be more independent and also intelligent in the decision about its path as well as relying on ground interference.
The rover will carry a panoramic camera and ground-penetrating radar like Yutu 2, but will have a magnetometer and Raman spectrometer, instead of the visible infrared spectrometer and active neutral atom analyzer instrument that Sweden is providing for the Yutu 2 mission. Chang’e 7 will also carry a second, smaller rover. for the United Arab Emirates.
China will attempt to collect samples from the far side of the moon before Chang’e 7, within the Antarctic-Aitken Basin, around late 2024 with the Chang’e 6 mission.
After Chang’e 7, Chang’e 8 is scheduled to be launched in 2028, and aims to test 3D printing technologies and use local resources.
This mission was designed to pave the way for a project called the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) in the 2030s.