January 27, 2014
China’s Jade Rabbit Moon Rover Says Goodbye, Its Science Lives On
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Over the weekend, China’s lunar rover said “Goodnight” to humanity. But even with a short lived mission the Chang’E-3 was still able to perform some science.
The rover, also known as Jade Rabbit, suffered a crippling breakdown that hindered it from entering into hibernation mode as it prepared itself for a lunar night, which lasts about 14 Earth days. During a lunar night, the moon’s surface temperature can drop to nearly minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to survive these harsh conditions, the rover must enter hibernation to preserve its electronics. However, a mechanical problem kept Jade Rabbit from hibernating properly, leading China's Xinhua news agency to write a goodbye note to everyone from the rover’s perspective.
"Although I should've gone to bed this morning, my masters discovered something abnormal with my mechanical control system,” Yutu said, via the state-run Xinhua news agency.
"My masters are staying up all night working for a solution. I heard their eyes are looking more like my red rabbit eyes. Nevertheless, I’m aware that I might not survive this lunar night. The sun has fallen, and the temperature is dropping so quickly… to tell you all a secret, I don’t feel that sad. I was just in my own adventure story – and like every hero, I encountered a small problem. Goodnight Earth, Goodnight, humanity.”
Jade Rabbit’s story may not be completely over, because the rover could somehow make it through the cold and keep on trucking. However, initial reports indicate that the rover’s three-month mission has ended a month-and-a-half early.