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China's Yutu Moon Rover Wakes Up, But It's Still Ailing

/ Source: Universe Today
Image: Chang'e 3 lander
This photo from China's Yutu moon rover, showing the Chang'e 3 lander, was tweeted by the state-run Xinhua news agency on Feb. 22. "Yutu snaps Chang'e-3 before its 3rd dormancy," Xinhua reported. "Mechanical issues remain unresolved."SASTIND via @XHNews

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — China’s maiden moon rover Yutu awoke from its regular two-week-long slumber on Friday, to begin the fourth lunar day since the probe's history-making lunar touchdown in mid-December.

But the robot is still suffering from mechanical control issues that popped up in late January, according to Chinese space officials.

The Chang'e 3 lander that deposited Yutu onto the pockmarked lunar surface awoke two days earlier, on March 12. "Yutu and the lander have restarted their operations and are exploring as scheduled,” according to China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, or SASTIND, the agency responsible for executing the Chang'e-3 mission.

Image: Chang'e 3 lander
This photo from China's Yutu moon rover, showing the Chang'e 3 lander, was tweeted by the state-run Xinhua news agency on Feb. 22. "Yutu snaps Chang'e-3 before its 3rd dormancy," Xinhua reported. "Mechanical issues remain unresolved."SASTIND via @XHNews

"The control issues that have troubled Yutu since January remain," China's Xinhua news agency reported. The Yutu rover is still suffering from an inability to maneuver its energy-generating solar panels. It is also unable to activate its six wheels and move around the surface.

Fortunately, the panoramic camera, radar and other science instruments and equipment on the rover are functioning normally, SASTIND said.

— Ken Kremer, Universe Today

Ken Kremer is a speaker, scientist, freelance science journalist and photographer based in Princeton, N.J. This is a condensed version of a report from Universe Today. Read the full report. Copyright 2014 Universe Today. Reprinted with permission.

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