Chang'e-4 probe

China’s lunar lander and rover ‘wake up’ after two-week nap

Chang'e-4 probe
Photo taken by the lander of the Chang’e-4 probe on Jan. 11, 2019 shows the rover Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2). (Xinhua/China National Space Administration)

The rover and the lander of the Chang’e-4 probe have been awakened by sunlight after a long “sleep” during the first extremely cold night on the moon, the China National space Administration (CNSA) announced on Thursday.

The lander awakened at 8:39 p.m. Wednesday, and the rover, Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2), awoke at about 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, surviving their 1st lunar night after making the first-ever soft landing on the far facet of the moon, said CNSA.

China’s Chang’e-4 probe, launched on Dec. 8 in 2018, landed on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon on January. 3.

A lunar day equals fourteen days on Earth, and a lunar night is the same length. The Chang’e-4 probe switched to a dormant mode during the lunar night due to the lack of solar energy.

Both the lander and the rover ended the dormant mode automatically according to the elevation angle of the sunlight. and the key instruments on the probe have began to work.

Currently, the rover is located about eighteen meters northwest of the lander. Communication and data transmission between ground control and the probe via the relay satellite Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) are stable, said CNSA.

As a results of the tidal locking effect, the moon’s revolution cycle is the same as its rotation cycle, and it always faces Earth with the same facet.

The far facet of the moon has unique features, and has ne’er been explored on site, thus Chang’e-4 might bring us breakthrough findings, said Zou Yongliao, director of the lunar and deep space exploration division of the CAS(Chinese Academy of Sciences).

During the first lunar day, the lander and the rover photographed each other, and a camera installed on the top of the lander took 360-degree panoramic photos on the surrounding of the probe.

From the panorama, we could see the probe was surrounded by many little craters. it was very thrilling, said Li Chunlai, deputy director of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and commander-in-chief of the ground application system of Chang’e-4.

The lunar rover Yutu-2 can face considerable challenges brought by complicated terrain in its future exploration, said scientists.

The scientific tasks of Chang’e-4 mission includes surveying the terrain and landforms, low-frequency radio astronomical observation ,detecting the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure, and measuring neutron radiation and neutral atoms.

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