Jade Rabbit is alive but struggling

2014-05-28 18:03
China's Jade Rabbit is still. (AP)

China's Jade Rabbit is still. (AP)

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Beijing - 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 solar panels for thermal insulation 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 lunar surface on 15 December.

But it experienced a "mechanical control abnormality" on 25 January, 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.

Read more on:    china  |  space
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