Science

China’s Jade Rabbit rover back in action after “nap”

PTI Beijing | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on December 22, 2013

China’s first Moon rover is back to work after a “nap” and has succeeded in sending back the first images of the national flags on itself and the lander, space authorities said today.

The six-wheeled rover named Yutu or Jade Rabbit conducted explorations on the lunar surface after taking photos of the lander for the fifth and final time early today, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said.

The images transmitted to the ground after the latest photos were captured showed for the first time the national flags on both Yutu and the lander, it said.

Pictures of the lander’s five-star red flag could not be taken during previous photo-shoots as the flag’s position was not facing the camera, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The latest photo shoot will be the last in which the lander and rover take photos of each other, it said.

Yutu had separated from the lander on December 15, hours after China’s lunar probe Chang’e-3 soft-landed on the moon on December 14.

The Moon rover and the lander took photos of each other for the first time on December 15. Colour images transmitted live during the first photo operation only showed the Chinese national flag on Yutu.

The rover began to circle the lander after the two took their first photos of each other, with a four-day break that lasted from December 16 to 20, during which the rover shut down its subsystems for a “nap”.

Real-time telemetry updates showed that all subsystems of the rover and lander are working stably, and the rover has sent more than 500 instructions to the lander within the 24 hours after the “nap”, the report said.

Yutu will survey the moon’s geological structure and surface substances and look for natural resources for three months, while the lander will conduct in-situ exploration at the landing site for one year.

The soft landing was carried out 12 days after the probe blasted off on an enhanced Long March-3B carrier rocket.

It also made China one of only three nations – after the United States and the former Soviet Union – to soft land on the Moon. A soft landing is one which does not damage the spacecraft and the equipment it carries.

The mission also marks the full completion of the second phase of China’s lunar programme, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.

After the mission, China’s lunar programme will enter a new stage of unmanned automatic sampling and return, which will include Chang’e-5 and 6 missions.

China plans to launch lunar probe Chang’e-5 in 2017.

Published on December 22, 2013
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