Tags: china | moon | rover

China Moon Rover Hits Snag With Mechanical Issue

Image: China Moon Rover Hits Snag With Mechanical Issue

Monday, 27 Jan 2014 02:05 PM

By Michael Mullins

China's moon rover is experiencing mechanical problems.

On Saturday, China's state-run Xinhua news agency announced that the Yutu moon rover "has experienced a mechanical control abnormality, and scientists are organizing repairs."

The Yutu moon rover, which means "Jade Rabbit," was launched into space on Dec. 2 as part of China's first moon rover mission, highlighting the nation's ambitious space program.

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On Dec. 15, the Jade Rabbit moon rover touched down and made its mark on the surface of the moon.

It is unclear what caused the malfunction, how severe it is, and whether not it will impact the remainder of the mission.

In an attempt to ease the fears of those following the rover, considering China's space program is an enormous source of pride for the country, the program's blog posted a message to its 150,000 followers on Saturday that read: "Sorry to make you all sad. The engineers and I haven't given up yet."

The mechanical problems appeared to be related to the solar-powered probe's process for shutting down for the lunar night, which lasts more than two weeks. The temperature during that time drops to minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit, The Associated Press reported.

The probe had survived its first lunar night shutdown, during which it is unable to generate energy from its solar panels and relies on a radioactive power source to keep its delicate sensors and other equipment intact.

Designed to travel approximately 660 feet per hour, the 300-pound Jade Rabbit can climb 30-degree slopes, according to the Shanghai Aerospace Systems Engineering Research Institute.

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The Jade Rabbit is reportedly China's first step toward eventually sending humans to the moon and establishing a permanent space station by 2020.

China has sent 10 astronauts into space since 2003. The nation sent two unmanned probes to orbit the moon in 2007 and 2010. At the end of its mission, the 2007 probe intentionally crashed into the lunar surface.

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