Earlier today I wrote that the Yutu rover had expired after a malfunction occurred during the storage of one of its solar panels prior to hibernation about two weeks ago. Well, guess what? Turns out, the rover’s not dead yet, to quote a familiar Monty Python song. My sources incorrectly reported that signals had ceased.
According to more recent information on UHF Satcom.com, a website devoted to amateur monitoring of deep space radio signals, a downlink signal from the rover was received today Feb. 12. No other signals have been picked up, so we can’t assess Yutu’s current or future health, but we’ll take the good news for now. The rover may be ailing, but it’s indeed alive. Click the link to read the excited chatter.
For about two weeks a month, the rover and lander store sensitive equipment inside their heated chassis to protect sensitive electronic and computer components from punishing temperatures that can plummet as low as -292 F (-180 F).
The Xinhua News Agency also sent out a brief report translated (roughly) here using Google Translate:
“Little Rabbit situation is getting better, a little longer wake signs, wait. “This is the 25th month since the rabbit into the moonlit reporter first heard positive news.Bunny, come on! Chefs, you have worked hard!” – Yu Xiaojie
No malfunction has been reported on the Chang’e 3 lander, so we’ll hopefully continue to see data gathered and photos taken during its planned 1-year lifetime.
The lander-rover mission landed on the moon’s Mare Imbrium (Seas of Rains) on Dec. 14, 2013 and was designed for a 3-month mission. The lander is equipped with cameras and a telescope for observation of the sky in ultraviolet light.
For many of us, the Chinese lunar landing mission rekindled the same kind of excitement as the Apollo mission did decades ago. That’s why we’ll remain hopeful that Yutu might get back on its feet (wheels) again soon.
Note: Thanks for Daniel Fischer for his help in sourcing.