China's Jade Rabbit moon rover 'alive but struggling'

May 28, 2014
A photo of the Jade Rabbit moon rover taken by the Chang'e-3 probe lander on December 15, 2013

China's troubled Jade Rabbit moon rover is still alive after more than five months on the moon but is heading for an icy death, state media reported on Wednesday.

The rover launched in December can still send data back to Earth, Xinhua news agency cited Li Benzheng, deputy commander-in-chief of China's lunar programme, as saying.

But it is unable to move after its wheels broke down, the report said, and is suffering from chills after for during freezing lunar nights stopped working.

"With each lunar night, the functionality of Yutu is yet again weakened," Li said, using the Chinese name for Jade Rabbit.

The rover turns dormant and stops sending signals during the lunar night—two-week periods when the part of the moon's surface on which it is sited rotates away from the sun and temperatures turn extremely cold.

The Jade Rabbit is named after the pet of a mythical goddess of the moon in Chinese mythology, and was deployed on the on December 15.

But it experienced a "mechanical control abnormality" on January 25, leading to fears in China it might never revive. To the country's relief, it started sending signals again in mid-February.

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

Explore further: China to send 'jade rabbit' to Moon: state media

Related Stories

China moon rover enters lunar orbit

December 6, 2013

China's first lunar rover entered the moon's orbit on Friday, state media reported, a key step towards the vessel's planned landing later this month.

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover has 'abnormality'

January 25, 2014

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover has experienced a "mechanical control abnormality", state media said on Saturday, in what appears to be a setback for a landmark mission in the country's ambitious space programme.

China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover 'dead' (Update)

February 12, 2014

China's troubled Jade Rabbit lunar rover has died on the surface of the moon, state media reported Wednesday, in a major setback for the country's ambitious space programme just weeks after its much-celebrated soft landing.

Recommended for you

NASA's space-station resupply missions to relaunch

November 29, 2015

NASA's commercial space program returns to flight this week as one of its private cargo haulers, Orbital ATK, is to launch its first supply shipment to the International Space Station in more than 13 months.

The hottest white dwarf in the Galaxy

November 25, 2015

Astronomers at the Universities of Tübingen and Potsdam have identified the hottest white dwarf ever discovered in our Galaxy. With a temperature of 250,000 degrees Celsius, this dying star at the outskirts of the Milky ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.