China’s Yutu-2 far side lunar rover has taken over 1,000 photos since it landed on the Moon three years ago.

The robot is exploring the Von Kármán crater, a large lunar impact feature that is located in the South Pole-Aitken Basin.

Yutu-2 was deployed from the Chang’e-4 lander that touched down on the far side of the Moon on January 3, 2019.

Chang’e-4 lander taken by Yutu-2 rover.

According to a China Central Television (CCTV) report, the Yutu-2 has wheeled itself over 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) as of January 6, 2021.

“From the high-resolution photos taken by Yutu-2, we can see many typical landforms, such as some fresh craters, (the diameter of which) range from tens of meters to tens of centimeters. We also see many rocks of different sizes,” Ren Xin, deputy chief designer of the Chang’e-4 ground application system, told CCTV.

Ren Xin, deputy chief designer, Chang’e-4 ground application system.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Scientific data

The rover is equipped with six scientific payloads, including the panoramic camera and the infrared imaging spectrometer, aiming to explore the lunar topography and the composition of the lunar soil. It has already collected 3,800GB of scientific data.

The Yutu-2 would often take considerable time to survey the craters it encounters. Ren said it once spent nearly three lunar days to measure the details of one crater.

Ren Xin details Yutu-2 imagery to CCTV reporter.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The Yutu-2 has now completed tasks for its 38th lunar day and is currently hibernating for the lunar night. A lunar day is equal to about 14 days on Earth, and a lunar night is of the same length. The solar-powered probe switches to dormant mode during the lunar night.

Next, Yutu-2 will travel northwest away from the landing point.

“Right now, [the rover] is heading northwest to a basalt region with no ejecta, around one kilometer away from the current position, which may take a longer time to reach,” Ren said.


Yutu-2 rover moves toward crater inspection.

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