lunar night wait for China's malfunctioning Jade Rabbit moon rover
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[January 29, 2014]
BEIJING (Reuters) — Chinese
scientists will have to wait until the end of a long lunar night,
lasting about 14 earth days, to see if repair efforts on the country's
first moon rover, dubbed Jade Rabbit, were successful, state media said.
Jade Rabbit began experiencing "mechanical control abnormalities"
on Saturday when entering the lunar night, which exposes the surface
to extreme cold over about 14 earth days. The rover is supposed to
shut down during that period.
"The complicated environment on the moon's surface is frequently the
main reason leading to abnormalities in the lunar vehicle," Pang
Zhihao, an expert from the China Academy of Space Technology, told
Strong radiation, weak gravity, extreme temperature variations and
other factors could be to blame for the malfunctions, Pang told the
Science and Technology Daily.
China landed Jade Rabbit, named after a lunar goddess in traditional
Chinese mythology, in mid-December to domestic fanfare on a mission
to conduct geological surveys and search for natural resources.
The landing was a point of national pride and seen as a
demonstration of the country's ability to engage in sophisticated
China has been increasingly ambitious in developing its space
programs for military, commercial and scientific purposes. But it is
still playing catch-up to established space superpowers, the United
States and Russia.
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The Jade Rabbit, and the Chang'e 3 probe that delivered it, marked
the first "soft landing" on the moon since 1976, before which both
the United States and the Soviet Union accomplished the feat.
The United States has successfully landed four rovers on Mars, two
of which are still active. The decade-old Opportunity, recently
found evidence that life-friendly fresh water once pooled on the red
(Reporting by Michael Martina; editing by Michael Perry)
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