The solar-powered rover will patrol the moon's surface, studying the structure of the lunar crust as well as soil and rocks, for at least three months. The robot's name was decided by a public online poll and comes from a Chinese myth about the pet white rabbit of a goddess, Chang'e, who is said to live on the moon.
Weighing 140 kilograms, the slow-moving rover carries an optical telescope for astronomical observations and a powerful ultraviolet camera that will monitor how solar activity affects the various layers -- troposphere, stratosphere and ionosphere -- that make up the Earth's atmosphere, China's information technology ministry said in a statement.
The Jade Rabbit is also equipped with radioisotope heater units, allowing it to function during the cold lunar nights when temperatures plunge as low as -180°C (-292°F).
The moon exploration makes China one of only three nations -- after the United States and the former Soviet Union -- to "soft-land" on the moon's surface, and the first to do so in more than three decades.