Jade Rabbit Moon Rover In Trouble
January 27, 2014

China’s Moon Rover Experiences Some Trouble On The Lunar Service

April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

China's Jade Rabbit Moon rover experienced a "mechanical control abnormality," according to BBC China, and is currently in trouble.

Xinhua news agency reports that the problems are due to the moon's "complicated lunar surface environment."

In the first "soft" landing on the Moon since 1976, Jade Rabbit arrived in December 2013 as part of China's Chang'e-3 mission and was expected to operate around 3 months.

Jade Rabbit, also known as Yutu, successfully explored the surface of the moon with its mechanical arm according to a report from the Beijing Aerospace Control Center earlier this month.

Citing the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), Xinhua reported that the malfunction occurred before the rover entered its scheduled dormancy period on Saturday. The news agency added that scientists were organizing repairs, but provided no other details.

Saturday, the rover was scheduled for a 14 day dormant period to coincide with the lunar night when there would be no sunlight to power the solar panels.

Jade Rabbit's malfunction is the first public mishap the Chinese space program has suffered in years. It follows behind several successful manned space flights.

News of the rover's troubles has stirred a vigorous discussion on Chinese social media, Xinhua reported. "People not only hailed the authority's openness to the accident, but also expressed concern," the agency said.

Social media comments have run the gammut from "#hanginthereJadeRabbit" on Sina Weibo, China's largest microblog provider to "I want to cry. Go Jade Rabbit, even if we fail this time, we still have next time - our Chinese Jade Rabbit's goal is the sea of stars! We will not give up easily," from user Jessica_S_AC_USK.

Another user referred to a Chinese folktale about a rabbit on the moon, saying, "Whatever happens, we must thank Jade Rabbit. When our generation tells stories to our children, we can confidently say: 'There really is a Jade Rabbit on the moon!'"

Support was also seen in the form of user posted comic strips depicting a rabbit on the moon, and rabbit-themed pictures.