China / Center

Moon rover, lander wake after lunar night

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-01-12 17:15

BEIJING - China's moon rover "Yutu" (Jade Rabbit) and the Chang'e-3 lander have just "woken up" after a period of dormancy that lasted two weeks, or one lunar night, in a move designed to ride out harsh climactic conditions.

Yutu was awakened autonomously at 5:09 a.m. Beijing Time on Saturday and has finished necessary setting procedures and entered a normal working mode following orders from the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), according to a statement issued by the BACC on Sunday.

It has started its rove around the moon surface and scientific missions.

Chang'e-3 has also been awakened automatically at 8:21 a.m. on Sunday, and is currently in normal condition, the statement said.

One night on the moon lasts about 14 days on Earth, during which the temperature falls below minus 180 celsius and there is no sunlight to provide power to the instruments' solar panels.

"During the lunar night, the lander and the rover were in a power-off condition and the communication with Earth was also cut off," said Zhou Jianliang, chief engineer of the BACC.

"When the night ends, they will be started up with the power provided by sunlight and resume operation and communication according to preset programs," Zhou said.

The awakening of the rover and lander marks the success of Chinese technology in surviving the lunar night, and the center will instruct the two instruments to carry on scheduled exploration missions, the chief engineer added.

Chang'e-3 soft-landed on the moon's Sinus Iridium, or the Bay of Rainbows, on December 14 last year, and Yutu later separated from the lander.

The rover fell asleep on December 26 as the mission's first lunar night arrived.

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