BEIJING Jan 29 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 state media.
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 space operations.
China has been increasingly ambitious in developing its
space programmes for military, commercial and scientific
purposes. But it is still playing catch-up to established space
superpowers, the United States and Russia.
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 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 planet's surface.
(Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Michael Perry)