China’s moon rover faces problem

Beijing, Jan 25: China’s moon rover, Jade Rabbit, has experienced a mechanical control problem and scientists are organising repairs.

The problem occurred due to “complicated lunar surface environment”, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND) said Saturday.

According to SASTIND, the rover faced problems when it entered its second dormancy in the morning when the lunar night fell, Xinhua reported.

The lander, another part of the Chang’e-3 probe, also “fell asleep” earlier Friday.

The pair went dormant for two weeks about one month ago, when the first lunar night of the mission occurred.

One night on the moon is about 14 days on Earth, during which the temperature falls below minus 180 degree celsius. During the lunar night, there is no sunlight to provide power to Jade Rabbit’s solar panel.

After the first dormancy, the lander’s moon-based optical telescope carried out observation of the sky, while its extreme ultraviolet camera observed the plasmasphere over the Earth, according to the SASTIND.

An ultra high frequency communication test between the lander and the moon rover was also conducted.

The rover obtained data through its radar, panorama camera, a particle X-ray device and infrared imaging equipment, said the SASTIND.

The Chang’e-3 lunar probe soft-landed on the Moon Dec 14. Jade Rabbit separated from the lander hours later.

The success of the Chang’e-3 mission made China the third country to soft-land a spacecraft on lunar soil after the US and the former USSR.

China’s lunar probe missions — Chang’e-1, 2, and 3 — have all succeeded, said Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar probe programme.

IANS