Houston, we have a problem — or rather, China does. Its first moon rover, the Jade Rabbit, has broken down halfway through its mission.
The solar-powered rover made a soft landing on the moon in December and was expected to conduct geological surveys for about three months, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Chinese government said the malfunction happened before a scheduled dormancy period when the rover would shut down during the lunar night — a period of about 14 days when there would be no sunlight to power it. (Via KCBS)
Two weeks ago, Chinese officials said the rover did successfully awake from its first dormancy period.
But now officials say there seems to have been a problem with the solar panel as it was preparing the rover for its second hibernation. (Via BBC)
According to China's state-run news agency, officials say the rover experienced "mechanical control abnormality" due to the moon's "complicated lunar surface environment." Scientists are reportedly planning repairs. (Via Xinhua)
Earlier this month, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center said the rover was successful in exploring the moon with a mechanical arm. (Via BBC)
China is the third country to land on the moon, after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. The country hopes the rover's mission will pave the way to one day send a Chinese astronaut to the moon. (Via The Telegraph)
If the Jade Rabbit's mission is successful, China plans to conduct more robotic missions to bring lunar soil samples back to Earth.