China’s Chang’e-Four probe resumes work for 26th lunar day

Beijing, January 8

The lander and rover of China’s Chang’e-4 probe have resumed work for the 26th lunar day on the far side of the moon, according to the country’s space agency.

The Chang’e-4 probe, that made the first-ever soft-landing on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon on January 3 last year, has survived 736 Earth days on the moon.

The far side of the moon is the hemisphere that never faces Earth, due to the moon’s rotation. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “dark side of the moon,” even though it receives just as much sunlight as its Earth-facing side.

The lander woke up at 3:13 am on Friday (Beijing time), and the rover Yutu-2, or Jade Rabbit-2, woke up at 10:29 am on Thursday, according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Centre of the China National Space Administration.

A lunar day is equal to about 14 days on Earth, and a lunar night is of the same length. The solar-powered probe switches to dormant mode during the lunar night.

During the 26th lunar day, Yutu-2 will move northwest toward the basalt area or the impact craters with high reflectivity, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Yutu-2 will take panoramic photos, and its infrared imaging spectrometer, neutral atom detector and lunar radar will continue to carry out scientific explorations. Research teams will analyse the detection data and release the scientific results, the report said.

Chang’e 4 is the fourth lunar probe launched by China since the country’s lunar programme was opened in 2004. It includes two main parts: the main lander weighing about 2,400 pounds and a 300-pound rover.

By comparison, NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars weighs about 400 pounds, and the Curiosity rover there is much bigger, at 2,000 pounds.

The spacecraft is largely a clone of Chang’e-3, which landed on the moon in 2013.

Named after the goddess of the moon in Chinese legends, the first Chang’e spacecraft was launched in 2007 to verify China’s lunar probe technology, obtain lunar images and perform scientific surveys.

The Chang’e 2 followed in 2010 to carry out high-definition imaging of the moon and investigate landing conditions for the Chang’e 3.

Chang’e 3 landed on the moon in 2013. Chang’e 3 released the first Chinese lunar rover, Yutu, on the moon. It worked there for around 1,000 days. PTI

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