Earlier image taken from Chang'e 3 lander shows Yutu rover on the roll, alive and well. Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

Earlier image taken from Chang’e 3 lander shows Yutu rover on the roll, alive and well. Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences

The good news from Beijing is that China’s Yutu (Jade Rabbit) lunar rover is indeed awake, apparently surviving its 14-days of low temp trauma.

However, ground controllers are still trying to find out the cause of its “mechanical control abnormality.”

“The rover stands a chance of being saved now that it is still alive,” said Pei Zhaoyu, a spokesman for the Chang’e 3 mission, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Still unknown is the state of the Chang’e 3 lander, although early reports indicated that it too survived the brutal lunar night cycle.

Sleep without protection

“Yesterday night, the Jade Rabbit lunar rover has sent us a good message from the Moon,” explained Yong-Chun Zheng, a scientist at the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Yong-Chun said that, in the last lunar day at the landing site, the rover ran into trouble in its ability to move about on the surface. “The control structure of the rover can’t function as designed. The rabbit [went] into sleep without protection,” he said.

Thanks to the efforts of engineers, Yutu has awakened. “The instruments on the rover stood up to the challenge of the very low temperature in the lunar night. The rover can receive command [s] from the ground station. We have also received data from the rover,” Yong-Chun said.

Except for some sensitive components, most of the functions of the rover have been recovered, Yong-Chun told this reporter.

“The lunar and planetary missions are not easy for any country. They always give us joy mingled with surprise,” with the anticipation now that the Yutu rover will make new discoveries on the Moon, Yong-Chun concluded.

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