China's Jade Rabbit Moon Rover Suffers Serious Malfunction

China's Jade Rabbit Moon Rover Suffers Serious Malfunction

Jade Rabbit, the first Chinese lunar rover, has malfunctioned, and repairs are being attempted.

The Chinese moon rover Yutu, which means "Jade Rabbit", suffered an unspecified "mechanical control abnormality", which scientists were working to repair, according to China's state news agency Xinhua. Xinhua quoted a government agency as saying that the problems were due to the "complicated lunar surface environment". The malfunction may jeopardize the rover's ability to survive the long lunar night ahead.

Jade Rabbit is part of the Chang'e-3 mission, the first Chinese mission to soft-land on the moon; and one of only three space programs to successfully do so, following the USA and USSR programs of the Cold War era. Intended to operate for three months from the December 14th landing, the rover will fall short of that goal by about half if it fails to weather the current lunar night.

The rover's troubles came just before it was scheduled to enter its second period of dormancy. During each two week night period there is insufficient light to power the rovers solar panels, and it goes into hibernation. Jade Rabbit has already successfully weathered one such night, but the malfunctions may make it difficult to weather a second. Universe Today's Ken Kremer reports that "Based on unofficial accounts, it appears that one of the solar panels did not fold back properly over Yutu's mast after it was lowered to the required horizontal position into a warmed box to shield and protect it from the extremely frigid lunar night time temperatures."

Although it has inevitably invited unfavorable comparison with NASA's martian rover Opportunity, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary on Mars, the Chang'e-3/Yutu mission has been largely successful in a field with an extremely high failure rate. The mission has inspired a great deal of pride and support from the Chinese public. The rover shares its name - chosen by a public poll - with the pet rabbit of the chinese moon goddess. Xinhua reports that people have rallied around the rover, sending tens of thousands of messages of support by Sunday afternoon.

Source: Xinhua, Universe Today

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I would like it very much if the citizens of the world would join in those messages of support as well. I applaud the successful mission and hope the vehicle lasts through the night. It is wonderful to see as many nations and people as possible engaged in scientific discovery.

I'd really love to see some real joint space operations in the future, where all countries share in the discoveries and experiments. I still feel that space is the key to uniting most of the world and exploration is our best bet for the future of our species. The days of competition were healthy, despite the nuclear war undertones, but in today's worldview it would be better if we were all united despite cultural differences. I know we've done this on some projects in the past and present but I think it would be more beneficial if we used that as a baseline for future endeavors and not just a diplomatic patch. The time of who has the biggest arsenal is rapidly becoming a thing of the past and our future lies in cooperation and informational sharing. It may help to overcome other cultural boundaries.
Sure, I'd pull for a Starfleet any day of the week just to feel a bit better. That being said I am pulling for China to fix their project in hopes that it can lead to more discovery. And hopes that maybe NASA can extend an olive branch if it seems to be needed.

3 things

1. Made in China.... BAHAHAHA!
2. Queue conspiracy the Americans shot it with a kinetic energy weapon to keep it off the lunar "landing" site
3. Why are we all not building bases on the damn moon yet? Would be a HELL of a lot easier to get functional than the ISS in that decaying orbit that has to be boosted back up every so often.... With you know all that gravity and soil to work with.....

someone beat me to the Made In China comment. damn Vunterslaush...

anyways, i'd like to LIKE to see it survive and continue to operate and explore, but lets be realistic, China is very... ultra-nationalist is what i'm aiming for i think, and their achievements are still theirs alone, and not seen by their people or culture as achievements for humanity. it's all about furthering the glorious people's republic of china. i don't see them playing nice on the world stage in the future of their space program. then again, space has been the one area that global politics has generally taken a back seat to true achievement. i dunno, we'll see where this goes. all in all, i gotta say, i'm glad there's still interest and advancements being made.

on the american pride side of things, speaking of our mars rover, hasn't that thing well EXCEEDED it's expected lifespan? it wasn't supposed to operate this long, and they're just running it as best they can until it's actually dead, right? all this has me thinking, in a future rover, perhaps they should have robotic arms and tools installed that allow for humans to remotely repair the rovers with materials it carries with it. just a thought.

also, i wonder if U2 is called Jade Rabbit in China? punch bono. irrelevant but... do it.

Slash2x:
3 things

1. Made in China.... BAHAHAHA!
.....

I hate to say this but it was the first thing that came to mind. I do hope it does last the night as we need more effort put into getting into space.

i knew giving it a name that sounded like a sex toy was a bad idea...

still expertise takes time i guess...and it is cool someone aiming stuff at the moon again...even if it does just look like a Lunokhod...

Slash2x:

3. Why are we all not building bases on the damn moon yet? Would be a HELL of a lot easier to get functional than the ISS in that decaying orbit that has to be boosted back up every so often.... With you know all that gravity and soil to work with.....

Got me, boss. For some reason, people wanted to go heading off to Mars instead. Life is funny that way.

Slash2x:
3 things

1. Made in China.... BAHAHAHA!
2. Queue conspiracy the Americans shot it with a kinetic energy weapon to keep it off the lunar "landing" site
3. Why are we all not building bases on the damn moon yet? Would be a HELL of a lot easier to get functional than the ISS in that decaying orbit that has to be boosted back up every so often.... With you know all that gravity and soil to work with.....

The third one is a really good question. I never understood that. Why put a man on the moon, and then never really do anything more with it. I always thought the natural step would be to set up a base there. Things like these make me suspicious about the whole mankind in space thing, and if we really are doing what they are saying (or are they just stealing our tax money). I'm a simple man, lol, my small brain just can't comprehend that we are able to put a rover on freakin' Mars.

havoc33:

Slash2x:
3 things

1. Made in China.... BAHAHAHA!
2. Queue conspiracy the Americans shot it with a kinetic energy weapon to keep it off the lunar "landing" site
3. Why are we all not building bases on the damn moon yet? Would be a HELL of a lot easier to get functional than the ISS in that decaying orbit that has to be boosted back up every so often.... With you know all that gravity and soil to work with.....

The third one is a really good question. I never understood that. Why put a man on the moon, and then never really do anything more with it. I always thought the natural step would be to set up a base there. Things like these make me suspicious about the whole mankind in space thing, and if we really are doing what they are saying (or are they just stealing our tax money). I'm a simple man, lol, my small brain just can't comprehend that we are able to put a rover on freakin' Mars.

In the 70s, the max amount of time we could send someone into space was less than 2 weeks. Enough to send someone to the moon and back, but really not much time to do anything else worthwhile. It took 30 years of research with various space stations on how to do extended space missions, by that time the public support for manned space-missions had waned.

 

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