By Jacob Aron and Lisa Grossman | New Scientist
China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover showing signs of life
Reports of the moon bunny’s death may be somewhat exaggerated. Despite earlier suggestions that China’s lunar rover, Yutu – or Jade Rabbit – had been officially declared dead, Chinese state media now say that the rabbit has phoned home. It remains unclear, though, whether the rover is healthy enough to continue its mission.
A news statement from state media agency Xinhua reports that the Chinese space agency is seeing signs of life from Yutu. And a website that records amateur monitoring of radio signals from space has received a downlink signal from Yutu, according to the Planetary Society.
Getting a signal from the rover raises hopes that all is not lost. According to Xinhua, a mission member has said: "The situation of the little rabbit is improving, with a little indication of awakening. Wait a while more."
Yutu’s troubles began last month, just six weeks into its three-month mission. China’s Chang’e-3 lander touched down on the moon on 14 December and released the Yutu rover about 7 hours later. Both machines successfully entered hibernation mode during their first lunar night. On the moon, night lasts for half of each Earthly month and plunges surface temperatures from daytime highs of about 90 °C to below -180 °C.
When the second lunar night rolled around on 25 January the lander went in to hibernation but Yutu appeared to have failed. It is impossible to communicate with the vehicles during lunar night, so mission operators had to wait until the new lunar day on Monday this week to confirm whether Yutu would respond.
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