The Jade Rabbit, China’s beloved but troubled lunar rover which first began its mission on the Moon in late 2013, has finally ceased operating, according to officials from the country’s space program. As the third lunar rover to ever explore the moon, after the US and the Soviet Union missions, it faced a number of problems over the course of its mission.
Initially, the Jade Rabbit was designed to have only a three-month life span but managed to overcome numerous technical problems and other design flaws in order to survey the moon’s surface for 31 months, in the process gaining the status of a national hero in China.
The name of the lunar rover, Jade Rabbit, Yutu in Chinese, is a reference to a moon goddess’ pet in Chinese mythology, and was selected in an online poll. Its mission was to survey the moon’s surface for natural resources, documenting his journey with photographs in the process. Some of the lunar rover’s characteristics include the ability to travel 200 meters per hour and climb slopes of up to 30 degrees.
The lunar rover was launched on December 2, 2013, as part of the Chang’e-3 lunar mission. After a successful landing on the moon on December 15, followed by a period of normal activity, the rover became dormant and stopped transmitting signals during the two weeks of lunar night. Fortunately enough, it managed to recover, and it became a source of national pride inChina.
The announcement regarding the fact that the lunar rover has ceased operating was made on Wednesday, by the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the organization in charge of China’s space program.
The Jade Rabbit’s mission was part of a three-step Chinese Lunar Exploration Programme. The Chang’e-4 lunar mission will begin only after a relay satellite is launched to facilitate communications with the lunar far side, as it will attempt the first-ever landing on the far side of the moon in 2018.
The last step of the programme will be Chang’e-5, and it will be a Moon sample retrieval mission. It will launch on A Long March 5 rocket in late 2017.
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