China's Jade Rabbit moon rover 'alive but struggling'
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.
"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 lunar surface 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.
© 2014 AFP