Tag Archives: Jade Rabbit

After 31 months, Jade Rabbit ceases operation

China’s first lunar rover, Yutu (Jade Rabbit in English) has finally ceased operations after 31 months.

The rover stalled shortly after it moved away from its lander, Chang’e 3, but its instruments were still able to gather data, and they did so for about 10 times longer than originally planned.

Yutu is slowly dying

China’s lunar rover Yutu, unable to move since its first few weeks on the moon, is slowly dying.

The rover is currently in good condition and works normally, but its control problem persists, said Yu Dengyun, deputy chief designer of China’s lunar probe mission. “Yutu has gone through freezing lunar nights under abnormal status, and its functions are gradually degrading,” Yu told Xinhua at an exclusive interview. He said that the moon rover and the lander of the Chang’e-3 lunar mission have completed their tasks very well. The rover’s designed lifetime is just three months, but it has survived for over nine.

As China’s first planetary rover mission, the limited roving success of Yutu is well balanced by its ability to continue functioning on the lunar survey for so long. The engineering data obtained from this mission will serve Chinese engineers well as they plan future missions.

A profile of the designer of China’s Yutu lunar rover.

A profile of the designer of China’s Yutu lunar rover.

The details about Jia Yang’s life as well as some of the challenges he faced building the rover and other spacecraft for China is most interesting. I also suspect that if we pay close attention we will see his name pop up again in connection with future missions.

As China’s Yutu lunar rover barely continues to survive, unable to move, its scientists prepare to publish their results.

As China’s Yutu lunar rover barely continues to survive, unable to move, its scientists prepare to publish their results.

But other systems and scientific instruments — a panoramic camera, infrared and X-ray spectrometers and a ground-penetrating radar — are operating normally, says Zheng: “The rover can still carry out measurements from the fixed location and send scientific data to the ground station.” …

Yutu’s penetrator radar has detected several layers underneath its path, says Long Xiao, a planetary scientist at China University of Geosciences in Wuhan. Under the surface soil, known as regolith, it found a layer of debris from a crater-forming impact and two layers of lava flows, made of basalt.

Though the rover lost its ability to rove within days of landing on the Moon, the mission is certainly an overall success for China. When they send their next rover to the Moon this first experience will serve them very well.

China claimed today that its lunar rover Yutu is still alive on the Moon.

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.