China Moon Rover Jade Rabbit Malfunctions Earns Support

science, jade moon, rover, china, yutu

#hang in there Jade Rabbit! It is the newest tag going around after China’s moon rover Yutu, dubbed affectionately as Jade Rabbit, recently reported a malfunction. The lander named Chang’e-3 departed from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on December 2, 2013. The rover Jade Rabbit arrived for surveying surface substances and any potential natural resources. Within the past couple of days, reports surfaced of Jade Rabbit reportedly running into issues.

The rover was expected to explore the moon’s surface over a course of three months. Earlier this month it appears celebration was in order, as the Beijing Aerospace Control Center reported the rover had swept the surface with its mechanical arm. The technicality came at a time the rover was going to into its second dormant stage for 14 days starting this past Saturday.

Social media in and around China received word of the malfunctioning rover, a first from a line of successful manned space flights. The transparency of the reports about the rover started earning respect from citizens in China. Sina Weibo is the largest microblog and visitors began a hashtag level of support for the fallen rover. #hang in there Jade Rabbit, was shared among millions of users.

Yutu "Jade Moon"
Yutu “Jade Moon”

The malfunction reported on the rover is being attributed to “lunar surface environment,” citing complications. The lander for the rover went into rest a few hours before the Jade Rabbit started experiencing issues. The China State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense reported the rover captured images of plasmasphere which hovered over the Earth.

China’s rover Jade Moon deserves the support and a definite celebratory mood. It marked China as the first country, since 1976, to accomplish a successful landing on the lunar surface. The last country to do so was the former Soviet Union.

The rover and lander reacted extremely well in temperatures that plunged to extreme numbers, such as -180 degrees Celsius. The equipment attached to the rover included a radar, panorama camera, a particle X-ray device and an infrared imaging equipment kit.

BBC reported scientists were gathering preparations for repairs, but did not indicate how those plans would be carried out. The dormant period is marked since the Jade Moon is solar-powered, once the period came to an end, the rover was to resume additional astronomical observations. Unknown is if repairs can be completed on the rover to save it.

Planetary rover specialist, Lutz Richter, based out of Germany fears that may not happen. Richter believes the malfunction may expand to issues with the electrical motors. The motors, if malfunctioned, may not had allowed the engines to close “the solar panels.” If the panels cannot be closed, the deep freeze of the lunar night would overcome the rover, stated Richter. Other speculations point to dust blocking a mechanism  or even continued exposure to the extreme temperatures.

While seeing the Jade Moon malfunction, China deserves a moment of celebration for the moon rover. Crashes have occurred for both the US and Japan which did not have the success of the Jade Moon. Overall, the landing was not the issue and scientists can configure new ways to improve the next rover.

Reportedly, China had plans to send the next moon rover in 2017. Depending on the status of the Jade Moon over the next week, specialists can determine what level of research their next rover will conquer. China’s moon rover Jade Rabbit may have encountered malfunctions, but the rover and the scientists earn support from their citizens and viewers from across the globe.


Angelina Bouc