So long Jade Rabbit, we hardly knew ye — the Chinese lunar explorer has now been pronounced dead on the Moon’s surface.
State-run media reported the “loss” of the rover, also known as Yutu in Chinese, Wednesday — saying it “could not be restored to full function.” (Via China Daily)
Jade Rabbit was first deployed on December 15th of last year, but suffered a reported “mechanical control abnormality” at the end of its second lunar night, a roughly two earth-week period, in late January. (Via RT)
The rover reportedly failed to go into hibernation. And according to io9, the Moon’s frigid temperatures might be to blame. "The moon's nighttime temperatures, which can reach close to -300 degrees Fahrenheit, were apparently too intense for Yutu's fragile components. The rover therefore froze to death, failing to wake and communicate with China's mission controllers on Monday."
Besides the United States and the former Soviet Union, China was the only other country to land on the Moon — and the mission was reportedly part of the country’s bigger space exploration plans. (Via CCTV)
As DailyTech reports, “Back in 2011, China released a paper that described China's five-year plan, which consisted of the construction of space stations, space laboratories, ship freighters and a manned spaceship.”
The rover was also reportedly a source of pride for the country, with the China News Service reporting tens of thousands of Chinese citizens sending the rover blessings on social media.
Jade Rabbit’s demise wasn’t a complete surprise though, as The Independent reports it sent out a rather sentimental goodbye in a diary entry more than a week ago.
It was subsequently reenacted via a dramatic reading by Sir Patrick Stewart on The Daily Show.
“Good night Earth, good night humanity.”
Jade Rabbit was part of China’s first lunar landing since 1976. The lander it arrived in is reportedly still operational.