UK & World News

  • 13 February 2014, 8:56

China's Jade Rabbit Rover Comes 'Back To Life'

China's troubled lunar rover, which ran into technical difficulties, could potentially be saved.

Jade Rabbit, the country's first moon rover, had earlier been declared dead because it "could not be restored to full function", state media said in a short report.

But just hours later, the rover was said to have "come back to life", though it is still malfunctioning.

"At least it is alive and so it is possible we could save it," the official Xinhua news agency quoted Pei Zhaoyu, a spokesman for the lunar programme, as saying on a verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

It was designed to spend three months looking for natural resources.

The moon is believed to offer the possibility of solar power generation as well as holding uranium, titanium and other mineral resources.

The landmark mission successfully landed on the moon in December and sent back its first pictures hours afterwards, but ran into mechanical problems last month which left it unable to function.

The "mechanical control abnormality" was caused by "the complicated lunar surface environment", the official Xinhua news agency said earlier.

The Jade Rabbit, orYutu, was deployed on the moon's surface on December 15 and was a huge source of pride for the country.

It was the first landing of its kind since the former Soviet Union's mission in 1976.

The rover's name was chosen in an online poll of 3.4 million voters.

It comes from an ancient Chinese myth about a rabbit living on the moon as the pet of Chang'e, a lunar goddess who swallowed an immortality pill.

China is only the third country to complete a lunar rover mission, following on from the United States and the former Soviet Union.

The space programme includes plans for a permanent orbiting station by 2020 and eventually sending a person to the moon.

The Jade Rabbit mission came a decade after China first sent an astronaut into space.

It was seen as a symbol of the country's growing global stature, increasing technological prowess and the ruling Communist Party's success in reversing the fortunes of the once-impoverished country.

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