Von Kármán crater as viewed by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University



China’s Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu-2 rover have been switched to dormant mode, readied to experience another long stint of 14 days of brutal cold.

Prior to their celestial slumber, the farside explorers worked stably for a 23rd lunar day, according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration. The twosome has spent 660 Earth days on the Moon as of Saturday.


China’s champion – long duration Yutu-2 rover.

The lander was switched to dormant mode at 9:40 p.m. Friday (Beijing Time) as scheduled, and the rover, Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2), at 12 noon Friday, said the center.

Yutu-2 has wheeled a little over 1,853 feet (565.9 meters).

View of the Chang’e-4 lander with the location of the Lunar Lander Neutrons and Dosimetry (LND) experiment sensor head indicated by red arrow. LND features a reclosable door that protects the experiment from the cold lunar nights but is open during lunar daytime.
Credit: Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) and National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC)

Radiation measurements

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, during the 23rd lunar day, Yutu-2 went northwest, traveling toward an area with basalt and an impact crater area with high reflectivity. En route to the destination, the near-infrared spectrometer on the rover was used to detect a rock about 30 centimeters in diameter. The research team is analyzing the transmitted data. The rover Yutu-2 has exceeded its three-month design lifespan, becoming the longest-working lunar rover on the Moon.

Scientists carried out the first systematically documented measurements of radiation on the Moon with data acquired by the neutron radiation detector onboard.

According to the study published in the journal Science Advances, the radiation environment of the lunar surface is roughly two to three times the International Space Station, five to ten times of a civilian aircraft flight, and 300 times that of the Earth’s surface. The study provides a reference for the estimation of the lunar surface radiation hazards and the design of radiation protection for future lunar astronauts.

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