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Rediff.com  » News » China's moon rover Jade Rabbit comes 'back to life'

China's moon rover Jade Rabbit comes 'back to life'

February 13, 2014 12:48 IST

China's troubled moon rover Yutu or Jade Rabbit has come back to life from a troubled dormancy although experts are still trying to figure out the cause of its abnormality, officials said on Thursday.

"Yutu has come back to life," said Pei Zhaoyu, the spokesman for China's Lunar Programme.

Pei said the moon rover, named after the pet of a lunar goddess in ancient Chinese mythology, has now been restored to its normal signal reception function.

But experts are still working to verify the cause of its mechanical control abnormality, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Yutu had experienced a mechanical control abnormality due to "complicated lunar surface environment" in January.

The problem emerged before Yutu entered its second dormancy on the moon on January 25 as the lunar night fell.

"Yutu went to sleep under an abnormal status," Pei said, adding experts were concerned that it might not be able to survive the extremely low temperatures during the lunar night.

"The rover stands a chance of being saved now that it is still alive," he said.

On Wednesday night, media reports had stated that Yutu had been presumed dead after it developed mechanical problems.

Many Chinese Internet users said they were moved to hear that their "cute rabbit" had come back to life, and some said the rover was a "foodie" waking up for rice dumplings, a must-have delicacy for the Lantern Festival that falls on Friday.

The lander, another part of the Chang'e-3 probe, also "fell asleep" earlier.

The pair went dormant for two weeks nearly 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 Celsius.

During the lunar night, there is no sunlight to provide power to Yutu's solar panel.

Jade Rabbit was originally scheduled to carry out geological surveys and astronomical observations for three months after it landed on the moon.

The Jade Rabbit was deployed on the moon's surface on December 15, several hours after the Chang'e-3 probe landed.

The lunar probe mission, comprising the lander Chang'e-3 and rover Yutu, was launched in December as part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Programme.

The mission, which made the first soft-landing on the Moon since 1976, makes China the third country to successfully send a lunar rover to the moon, after the US and the former Soviet Union.

K J M Varma In Beijing
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