China’s lunar rover is driving smoothly on the Moon’s farside.

The state-run Xinhua news service explains that the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said late Friday that both the lander and rover are currently gathering data.

On a roll. China’s Yutu-2 rover on the Moon’s farside.
Credit: CNSA/CLEP

Credit: CNSA/CLEP

At 17:00 local time in Beijing, the three 16-foot (5-meter) antennas of the low-frequency radio spectrometer on the lander have fully spread out, said the CNSA in a statement.

Additionally, Germany’s lunar neutron and radiation detector was turned on for testing. The ground control has been receiving geographic and geomorphic images of the Moon’s farside.

Route planning

The recently unleashed Yutu-2 rover, dispatched from the Chang-e’4 lander, is equipped with a data transmission link to relay with the Queqiao relay satellite, and has completed environment perception and route planning.

Three 16-foot (5-meter) antennas of the low-frequency radio spectrometer on the lander have fully spread out.
Credit: CCTV/Screengrab/Inside Outer Space

Driving on the lunar surface, the controlled robot is on schedule and arrived at preset location A to carry out observations. The radar and panorama camera on the rover have been operating smoothly and other devices will begin operation according to schedule.

Napping mode

According to the CNSA, in the following days, Yutu-2 and the lander will face the challenge of extremely high temperatures in the lunar day. Yutu-2 will enter a “napping” mode at an appropriate time and is expected to resume moving next Thursday.

Space engineer Ron Creel notes that it should be about Sunday, January 6, 2019 at 3:14 p.m. Central Time for Lunar Noon at the Chang’E-4 landing site of 177.6 degrees East longitude on the Moon.

“This will be the approximate time for maximum solar heating and maximum Moon surface temperature at that site,” Creel advised Inside Outer Space. “Discussions with Russian Lunokhod engineers indicated that they also had to stop vehicle movement (nap) near noon conditions on the Moon – primarily to avoid visibility “washout” from reflected sun rays,” he explains.

Xinhua explains that the Moon rotates on its axis once every 28 days, so every part of the Moon’s surface has a day/night pattern. Subsequently, temperatures on the Moon vary between extremes of some 200 Celsius degrees and minus 200 degrees.

[Note: Mark Robinson of ASU adds that the max temperature is about 120°C, not 200°C, citing the Lunar Sourcebook, edited by Grant H. Heiken, David T. Vaniman, Bevan M. French©1991, Cambridge University Press at:

https://www.lpi.usra.edu/publications/books/lunar_sourcebook/

see pages 34/35]

Leonard David is author of Moon Rush: The New Space Race to be published by National Geographic in May 2019.

To pre-order Moon Rush: The New Space Race, go to:

https://shop.nationalgeographic.com/products/moon-rush

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/moon-rush-leonard-david/1129287265?ean=9781426220050

https://www.amazon.com/Moon-Rush-New-Space-Race/dp/1426220057

3 Responses to “China’s Farside Lander/Rover: Smooth Operations (Updated)”

  • Ron says:

    Hello Leonard,

    By my calculation, Lunar Noon at the Chang’E-4 landing site at 177.6 East longitude on the Moon, would make Lunar Noon at that site at about 8:06 p.m. CT tonight, January 4, 2019.

    Discussions with Russian Lunokhod engineers indicated that they also had to stop vehicle movement (nap) near Noon conditions on the Moon – primarily to avoid visibility “washout” from reflected sun rays.

    Thanks,

    Ron

  • Ron Creel says:

    Hello Leonard,

    By my calculation, Lunar Noon at the Chang’E-4 landing site at 177.6 East longitude on the Moon, would make Lunar Noon at that site at about 8:06 p.m. CT tonight, January 4, 2019.

    Discussions with Russian Lunokhod engineers indicated that they also had to stop vehicle movement (nap) near Noon conditions on the Moon – primarily to avoid visibility “washout” from reflected sun rays.

    Thanks,

    Ron

  • Ron Creel says:

    Leonard,

    Correction – it should be about Sunday, January 6, 2019 at 3:14 p.m. Central Time for Lunar Noon at the Chang’E-4 landing site of 177.6 degrees East longitude on the Moon.

    This will be the approximate time for maximum solar heating and maximum Moon surface temperature at that site.

    Ron

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