The Jade Rabbit moon rover has suddenly restarted itself, rising again like a lunar zombie after failing to function weeks ago.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, China’s moon rover called Yutu was launched near the end of November and went into lunar orbit in December. China’s moon landing made them the third country to land any man-made object on the lunar surface. The mission by the Jade Rabbit moon rover was preceded by two moon orbiter missions in 2007 and 2010.
The names of Yutu and Chang’e were voted upon by the Chinese and competed against 190,000 other ideas. Chang’e was a goddess who accidentally swallowed an immortality pill and flew to the Moon, with only a rabbit to keep her company. Hence the name Yutu, or Jade Rabbit.
Unfortunately, it turns out Jade Rabbit couldn’t handle the actual environment of the moon, which you’d think would be part of the job description for any moon rover. The situation was made even more odd when China’s state-run news agency Xinhua released a statement in the form of a story, which was famously parodied by Patrick Stewart on the Daily Show:
The Jade rabbit was even given a diary where it lamented its fate:
“Although I should’ve gone to bed this morning, my masters discovered something abnormal with my mechanical control system. My masters are staying up all night working for a solution. I heard their eyes are looking more like my red rabbit eyes. Nevertheless, I’m aware that I might not survive this lunar night.”
Well, the Chinese engineers can now rest those red eyeballs because, just like the folklore, the Jade Rabbit stumbled upon the elixir of life and sprang back into functionality. The moon rover had gone into hibernation mode during the long moon night, which lasts 14 Earth days. Now that they’ve reestablished communications it’s hoped the Jade Rabbit may continue its three-month long mission assuming they can resolve an abnormality with its mechanical controls.
Besides Patrick Stewart, the Jade Rabbit actually does have an official voice on the the Chinese social network Sina Weibo. Mario Livio, senior astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, explains why people have anthropomorphized the Yutu:
“I think people have kind of latched onto it emotionally. They’ve mythologized it and soft of given it an animate form. Scientifically, a lot of lunar scientists are interested in it because it’s going to a new place on the moon we haven’t been to before.”
Of course, there is a business side to all of this. It’s believed mission is the beginning of an effort to search the lunar surface for Helium-3 resources and begin mining operations. This would be the first step to creating nuclear reactors and a long-term Chinese moon base.
What do you think about the Jade rabbit moon rover and its mission?