China’s Yutu rover is still functioning but cannot move.

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China’s Yutu rover is still functioning but cannot move.

Last week Yutu and its companion spacecraft, the Chang’e 3 Moon lander, awoke from a period of dormancy after the frigid, two-week lunar night — the third awakening since landing on 14 December, Chinese scientists said this week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. The probes continue to gather data and send it back to Earth.

But Yutu may never move more than the 100–110 metres it has already travelled from its landing site — in the Mare Imbrium. Mission officials had hoped that Yutu would travel to the rim of a nearby crater and explore it, but a mechanical failure in Yutu’s drive system has stilled the rover since late January.

I wish they would get their story straight. This article suggests that the problem wasn’t in the circuit that controls the storage of equipment during the long lunar night, as reported previously, but in the system that actually moves the rover.

It also appears from the story above that scientists were disappointed by the amount of information released at the Texas conference.


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