Science & technology
China's Jade Rabbit rover comes 'back to life'
Publish Date: Feb 13, 2014
China's Jade Rabbit rover comes 'back to life'
The Jade Rabbit moon rover is seen in a picture taken by a camera on board the Change-3 probe lander on December 15, 2013. CREDIT/AFP (Source: CCTV)
  • mail
  • img
newvision

BEIJING - China's troubled Jade Rabbit lunar rover has survived a bitterly cold 14-day lunar night, officials said Thursday, prompting hopes it can be repaired after suffering a malfunction last month.

The problem was a setback for Beijing's ambitious military-run space programme, which includes plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually sending a human to the moon.

"The rover stands a chance of being saved as it is still alive," Pei Zhaoyu, spokesman for China's lunar probe programme told the official news agency Xinhua.

An earlier report by the semi-official China News Service said an attempt to restore the vehicle to full functionality on Monday had been unsuccessful.

The rover, named Yutu or Jade Rabbit after the pet of Chang'e, the goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology, experienced a "mechanical control abnormality" as the lunar night fell on January 25, provoking an outpouring of sympathy from Chinese Internet users.

But Pei said: "Yutu has come back to life!", adding that the rover "went into sleep under an abnormal status".

Scientists had been concerned it might not be able to survive the extremely low temperatures of the lunar night, when it was supposed to remain dormant, but it was now receiving signals normally, Xinhua cited him as saying.

But experts were still working to establish the causes of its mechanical control abnormality, the agency reported, without giving details.

Australia-based independent space expert Morris Jones told AFP that the problem involved a solar panel on the rover failing to close.

"This allowed heat to escape from the rover in the cold lunar night. The cold has probably damaged some parts of the rover permanently, but it seems that some parts are still working," he said.

Beijing sees the space programme as a symbol of China's rising global stature and technological advancement, as well as the Communist Party's success in reversing the fortunes of the once-impoverished nation.

The Jade Rabbit was deployed on the moon's surface on December 15, several hours after the Chang'e-3 probe landed.

The landing -- the third such soft-landing in history, and the first of its kind since the Soviet Union's mission nearly four decades ago -- was a huge source of pride in China, where millions across the country charted the rover's accomplishments.

An unverified Weibo user "Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover", which has posted first-person accounts in the voice of the probe, on Thursday made its first update since January.

"Hi, anybody there?" it said, prompting thousands of comments within minutes.

Xinhua has said the account is "believed to belong to space enthusiasts who have been following Yutu's journey to the moon".

In a previous online posting following the "abnormality", it said: "The sun here has fallen, and the temperature is dropping fast. I've said a lot today, but I still feel it's not enough.

"I'll tell everyone a little secret. I'm actually not that sad. I'm just in my own adventure story, and like any protagonist, I encountered a bit of a problem. Goodnight, Earth. Goodnight, humans."

More than 6,000 Internet users wrote messages in response, many of them expressing hope that the rover has not seen its last day.

"We'll always remember that you're watching us on the moon," wrote one Web user. "One day, we'll bring you home."

China first sent an astronaut into space a decade ago and is the third country to carry out a lunar rover mission after the United States and the former Soviet Union.

The central government has said the latest mission was "a milestone in the development of China's aerospace industry under the leadership of... Comrade Xi Jinping".

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
One year and counting: Mars isolation experiment begins
Six people shut themselves inside a dome for a year in Hawaii on Friday, in the longest US isolation experiment aimed at helping NASA prepare for a pioneering journey to Mars....
Key Apple music exec steps down
A key executive for Apple's music service who came to the US tech giant with its acquisition of Beats has left the company, Apple said Friday....
Apple event set for Sept 9 in San Francisco
Apple on Thursday sent out invitations to a Sept. 9 media event, hinting that Siri virtual assistant software in its mobile devices will play a role....
Facebook celebrates one billion users in single day
Facebook boasted of a new benchmark Thursday in its seemingly inexorable march to Internet ubiquity: a billion people used the social network in a single day....
Windows 10 spreads to more than 75 million devices
Microsoft said Wednesday that Windows 10 has spread to more than 75 million devices since the new operating system was released less than a month ago....
Facebook adding virtual assistant to Messenger app
Facebook on Wednesday began testing a Messenger app virtual assistant that the leading social network said goes beyond artificial intelligence programs already on the market....
Do you support KCCA'S move to ban campaign posters from the city?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter