More on the Jade Rabbit’s ailments + The next Chinese lunar missions

A few more details dribble out regarding the problems tht China’s Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover is having on the Moon: China Exclusive: Control circuit malfunction troubles China’s Yutu – Xinhua

China’s Yutu (Jade Rabbit) moon rover suffered a control circuit malfunction in its driving unit, which troubled its dormancy in extremely low temperature, a scientist said on Saturday.

The control circuit problem prevented Yutu from entering the second dormancy as planned, Ye Peijian, chief scientist of the Chang’e-3 program, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.

“Normal dormancy needs Yutu to fold its mast and solar panels,” said Ye. “The driving unit malfunction prevented Yutu to do those actions.”

The rover is currently in another 2 week long night and will experience extremely low temperatures. The rover has radioisotope heater units (RHUs) to keep its internal systems warm. However, if the rover is not configured properly before a night period starts, e.g. closing panels to keep heat from escaping and putting solar panels in the right orientation, it may have problems powering back up when daylight returns.

[ Update: A discussion of the rover’s problems: You Too, Yutu? – Daily Planet/Air & Space Magazine.]


Meanwhile, China’s space agency is proceeding with preparations for the Chang’e 4 lunar lander/rover mission in 2015 and the Chang’e 5 sample return mission  in 2017: Preparation for Chang’e-5 launch on schedule – Xinhua.