China's Moon Lander May Die in Lunar Night

Jade Rabbit hits snag thanks to 'complicated lunar surface'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2014 9:22 AM CST
China's Moon Lander May Die in Lunar Night
In this image from the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang'e-3 China's first moon rover, Jade Rabbit, is on the lunar surface in the area known as Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows), Dec. 15, 2013.   (AP Photo / Xinhua)

China's moon rover Jade Rabbit has "experienced a mechanical control abnormality" that might scuttle its mission entirely. The problem came due to the "complicated lunar environment," the state-run Xinhua news service reported on Saturday, just before the rover went into sleep mode for the lunar night. Later, another report written as though from the rover's perspective said that engineers "are working round the clock. In spite of that, I know I might not be able to make it through this lunar night," the South China Morning Post reports.

"Scientists have little time, as it's already night on the moon," the deputy director of the China Society of Space Research's space probe committee said. The solar-powered Jade Rabbit has to power off during the lunar night—which lasts about 14 Earth days, and sees temperatures drop as low as -292 F. The story has generated concern on Chinese social media, where users have been using the hashtag #hanginthereJadeRabbit, the BBC reports. (More Jade Rabbit stories.)

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