China’s Chang’e 3 lander and Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover touched down on the Moon on 14 December2013. It was the first soft landing there since the Soviet Union’s Luna 24 in 1976, and the first rover since 1973’s Soviet Lunokhod 2. The Chang’e-3 mission is the second phase of China’s lunar program, which includes orbiting, landing and returning to Earth.
Named after the pet of a lunar goddess in ancient Chinese mythology, Yutu developed mechanical difficulties in January 2014; however, the Chinese rover ‘woke up’ on 13 February 2014 after its troubled dormancy.
Jade Rabbit entered its third planned dormancy on 22 February 2014. The lander’s radar, panorama camera and infrared imaging equipment are functioning normally, but the control issues that have troubled the rover since January persist.
Watch the Long March-3B rocket carrying the Chang’e-3 lunar probe blast off from the launch pad at Xichang Satellite Launch Center, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, on 2 December 2013…