Jade Rabbit's record-breaking mission ends as it turned dormant and stopped sending signals last month.
China’s Jade Rabbit lunar rover ends its amazing yet troubled mission after spending a record 31 months on the Moon’s surface.
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The Jade Rabbit rover or Yutu in Chinese, reached the surface of the moon late 2013. With its arrival at moon, China became only the third nation to carry out a soft landing after U.S. and Russia.
The rover was the part of Chang'e-3 lunar mission and was designed for a lifespan of a mere three months, but it was pushed to the limit and surveyed more than two years on the moon’s terrain. This made Jade Rabbit the first rover to operate on the moon since the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 1 that landed on the moon in January 1973 and lost communication in May 1973. In October 2015, it also set the record for the longest operational period for any rover on moon with 972 operational days, eclipsing the previous record of 322 days by Lunokhod 1 rover.
The six-wheeled Yutu’s journey was not smooth at all. It broke down just weeks after its landing but recovered and operated efficiently until its final shutdown last month. It turned dormant and stopped sending signals during the lunar night which lasted for two weeks and it reportedly ceased operations on July 28.
Despite continues technical problems, Yutu managed to collect valuable data from moon which is our closest celestial neighbor. We believe we know almost everything about our natural satellite but it’s the Jade Rabbit rover that made us release that this celestial object is still mainly unexplored.
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Rover’s Weibo account posted the farewell message. “The moon says it has prepared a long, long dream for me and I’m wondering what the dream would be like – would I be a mars explorer or be sent back to earth?”