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China Moon rover Jade Rabbit in trouble, may not finish mission

Beijing, Jan 28 (): China’s Jade Rabbit Moon rover is facing mechanical problems and may not be able to finish its mission.

The six-wheeled Yutu vehicle started functioning last month after making the first soft landing on the moon by a space probe in 37 years since 1976. The rover was designed in such a way to roam on the lunar surface for three months while surveying for natural resources and sending back data, along with its inactive lander, Chang’e 3.

As part of China’s Chang’e-3 mission, the rover landed on moon in December. It was estimated to operate for around three months.

The Beijing Aerospace Control Centre said at the start of this month, that Jade Rabbit, also called as Yutu, had effectively explored the surface of the Moon with its mechanical arm.

The vehicle has got problems due to “complicated lunar surface environment” of the moon, Xinhua news agency said. Citing the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), Xinhua reported the malfunction emerged before the rover entered its scheduled dormancy period on Saturday.

The mechanical problems seemed to be linked to the process of the solar-powered probe for shutting down for the lunar night, which persists more than two weeks. The temperature during that period drops to minus 180 degrees Celsius (minus 292 degrees Fahrenheit).

The probe had stayed alive its first lunar night shutdown, during which it is unable to generate energy from its solar panels and depends on a radioactive power source to keep its gentle sensors and other equipment unharmed.

The landing, the first of its kind since the Soviet Union’s mission nearly four decades ago and the third such soft-landing in history has been a huge source of pride in China, where millions across the country have been monitoring the accomplishments of the rover.

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