China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover oversleeps, phones home 1

China’s YuTu lunar rover as seen by Chang’E lander. (Chinese Academy of Science photo)

JISHOU, HUNAN — YuTu was not feeling well when it turned in for the long lunar night two weeks ago, so maybe we can excuse it for sleeping an extra day. After all, its Earth-bound creators were afraid it wouldn’t wake up at all.

When China’s YuTu (Jade Rabbit) hunkered down for the long lunar night, it was supposed to pull in its camera boom and fold its solar panels over itself to keep itself warm. Something malfunctioned, though, and Chinese space scientists were afraid YuTu would freeze to death waiting for the sunrise.

It missed a scheduled wake-up call on Monday, and Chinese media reported the six-wheeled rover was out of commission just two months into its mission. YuTu and its companion, the lander Chang’E, arrived on Dec. 14, the first probes to make a soft landing on the Moon since the 1970s.

But a day later, listeners on Earth heard its radio signal, indicating the rover had survived. Its operators are now trying to determine what happened and whether YuTu is well enough to continue its surveying mission.

Details are at Universe Today.

YuTu is named after the mythological rabbit who lives on the Moon, where he makes the special drink that keeps the gods alive forever. Chang’E is a beautiful goddess who drank a similar drink of immortality on Earth, and rose higher and higher until she reached the Moon, unable to return to her mortal lover.

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One comment on “China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover oversleeps, phones home

  1. Reply Thomas E Clay Jr Feb 13,2014 5:10 pm

    Yeah we saw the Chinese lunar rover go down -from Mars.

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