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Lunar rover is 'awake' but faults continue

2014-07-21 08:30 China Daily Web Editor: Wang Fan

China's first lunar rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, is still "alive" despite the malfunction of some of its equipment, according to a senior space scientist.

"Yutu has been woken up after the past dormancy, but the problems still exist," Wu Weiren, chief designer of China's lunar probe project, told Xinhua News Agency in Hong Kong.

Wu was to attend an exhibition set to open on Monday in Hong Kong that features the achievements China has made in its lunar exploration project.

He said the rover will embrace its eighth "working day", which is about 14 Earth days, in an abnormal state caused by mechanical failures, noting that "fortunately, the rover has completed its designated scientific and engineering tasks".

During the lunar night, there is no sunlight to provide power to Yutu's solar panel, and the extremely low temperatures would damage its delicate electronics, so the rover must "hibernate".

The 140-kilogram, six-wheeled Yutu, part of the Chang'e-3 lunar probe, has outlived its designed lifespan of three months since it reached the moon in mid-December. Using its scientific apparatus, the rover has analyzed major elements on the lunar surface and studied mineral resources.

However, after nearly six weeks of operation, the moon buggy reported a mechanical control problem on Jan 25 before entering its second dormancy.

Since then, it has been unable to move any farther, remaining about 20 meters southwest of where it landed. The antenna and solar panels cannot be folded, either.

Chinese engineers blamed the problem on the "complicated lunar surface environment".

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