Scientist: Yutu Still Functional Past Design-Life
   2014-04-02 10:56:28      Web Editor: Wang

Screen shows the photo of the Yutu moon rover taken by the camera on the Chang'e-3 moon lander during the mutual-photograph process, at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 15, 2013. The moon rover and the moon lander took photos of each other Sunday night, marking the complete success of the Chang'e-3 lunar probe mission. [Photo: Xinhua]

China's moon rover, Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, has already passed its design life-span of three months after landing on the moon last December, the Chengdu Business Daily reports.

Yu Dengyun, deputy chief engineer of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, said Tuesday that, although Yutu cannot move due to unresolved mechanical problems, it has not lost its scientific exploration functions and is still able to send back data and photos on the spot.

Now the distance between Yutu and the lunar lander is less than 20 meters. The two can still take photos of each other, and there's no problem in their communication capabilities.

According to Yu, the real retirement for Yutu will wait until it stops sending any signals or messages.

"Yutu will continue its dormancy, awaking and working until it totally loses its functions." Yu said.

Yu also said that Yutu's design life-span was set at three months because that was the time it would take for it to have fulfilled its scientific tasks. However, the rover finished its tasks earlier and remains functional past the three-month mark.

"China's second unmanned lunar probe, Chang'e-2, also passed its design life-span, but it has already flown over 80 million kilometers away and is still working now." Yu added.

Yutu started its fourth dormancy on March 24. It's supposed to wake up around April 10 of this year.

However, Yu pointed out that it might need more resting time, since the rover cannot adjust its solar array to collect enough solar electric power quickly.

Now scientists continue to analyze and examine Yutu's problems, and Yu said they're confident that the rover will awake again. 

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