RIP, Jade Rabbit

“Yutu”, the Jade Rabbit rover, delivered to the Moon by the Chang’e 3 lander, the first lunar lander sent by any nation other than the USA or the USSR and the first sent by anyone at all since 1976, has now officially ended its mission.  The little rover survived a harrowing failure early on, but recovered (albeit without the ability to move anymore) and endured repeated long lunar nights (lasting almost half a month).  But now, after an incredible 31 months, the rover can no longer survive.  It’s well past its primary mission, which was only slated for three months.  I haven’t been able to find out whether Jade Rabbit is succumbing to the environment or to a lack of funding — ten times past the original mission length, it’s often hard for any space agency to justify continued funding — but either way, it’s dang impressive.  The mission team signed off by posting one final message on behalf of Jade Rabbit to Weibo: “I’m a rabbit that has seen the most stars!”

jade-rabbit-1

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