China’s Yutu 2 Rover Still Operating After 4 Years On Moon
Yutu 2 is part of the historic Chang’e 4 mission, which in January 2019 made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon.
After four years on the moon, China’s Yutu 2 rover is still operational and has returned new images from the lunar far side. Yutu 2, which translates to “Jade Rabbit 2,” is a rising star in China as the Year of the Rabbit begins.
Yutu 2 is part of the historic Chang’e 4 mission, which in January 2019 made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon. According to an update from the Chinese Lunar Exploration Project’s (CLEP) social media account, the rover awoke on Jan. 15 to begin its 51st lunar day. (A lunar day lasts approximately 29.5 Earth days.)
There have been few updates to Yutu 2—wwhich translates to “Jade Rabbit 2″—over the past year, but the rover is suddenly a star once more as China celebrates the start of the Year of the Rabbit.
In its four years of exploration, the rover has travelled 4,774 feet (1,455 metres) across Von Kármán crater and is now 865 feet (2,837 metres) northwest of the Chang’e 4 lander, from which it rolled down onto the moon.
New images released by CLEP on January 18 show rocks and impact craters, Yutu 2’s winding tracks in the lunar regolith, and the distant wall of the 115-mile-wide (186-kilometer) Von Kármán Crater. an impact crater and the distant wall of the moon’s Von Kármán crater, photographed in January 2023 by China’s Yutu 2 rover.
The Yutu 2 rover, which has six wheels and weighs 310 pounds (140 kilogrammes), has made a number of scientifically valuable and unusual discoveries on its journey, including detecting a number of distinct layers of rock under the lunar surface and generating excitement over a “mystery hut” that turned out to be something much more mundane.
Meanwhile, China has yet to provide an update on its Mars rover, Zhurong, which has remained silent despite the fact that it is expected to resume operations on Mars in December 2022. Zhurong will enter a dormant state in May 2022 to weather the harsh winter in Mars’ northern hemisphere.