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China claimed today that its lunar rover Yutu is still alive on the Moon.
The rover is still able to send data back to Earth using the Chang’e 3 probe that delivered it, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing Li Bengzheng, deputy commander-in-chief of China’s lunar program. But the buggy’s wheels and the solar panel designed for thermal insulation during the frozen lunar nights no longer work, Li said. The craft’s functionality is progressively deteriorating “with each lunar night,” Li said.
What is significant here is that though the rover’s ability to rove failed much sooner than planned, its longevity now means that much of their engineering for future missions will work.