China has chosen the name “Yutu-2”, or Jade Rabbit-2, for its new moon rover, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced late Thursday.
The CNSA made the announcement after China’s Chang’e-4 probe, comprised of a lander and a rover, landed on the far side of the moon earlier in the day.
In Chinese folklore, Yutu is the white pet rabbit of Chang’e, the moon goddess who lent her name to the Chinese lunar mission.
Legend has it that Chang’e, after swallowing a magic pill, took her pet and flew toward the moon where she became a goddess and has lived with the white jade rabbit ever since.
Last August, China launched a worldwide poll to name the rover. According to the CNSA, a total of 42,945 proposed names were submitted from Aug. 15 to Sept. 5, among which 3,192 names were submitted by more than two participants.
During the final round, Yutu-2 stood out from nine other names in online voting and a special committee discussion. The other names included “Tansuo” (Explore), “Guangming” (Light), and “Jintu” (Golden rabbit).
The CNSA said that Yutu is a symbol of kindness, purity, and agility, and is identical to the moon rover in both outlook and connotation. It also reflects China’s peaceful use of space.
Yutu-2 faces more challenges than Yutu as its landing area, the Aitken Basin, is the largest, deepest and oldest crater in the solar system. “We hope Yutu-2 can make its exploration with no fear and have a more stable, wide and long journey,” said the CNSA in a statement.
Like its predecessor, Yutu-2, capable of enduring vacuum pressure, intense radiation, and extreme temperatures is equipped with four scientific payloads, including a panoramic camera, infrared imaging spectrometer and radar measurement devices, to obtain images of the moon’s surface and detect lunar soil and structure.