China’s Jade Rabbit Moon rover is in trouble. A week ago, Chinese state media reported that the rover had “mechanical control abnormality.”
Later the Xinhua news agency quoted officials that the rover was having problems because of the moon’s “complicated lunar surface environment.”
Contrary to popular belief, failure is an option in space exploration. About half of all lunar missions attempted have failed.
Starting with the Soviet Lunar 2 and currently ending with the Jade Rabbit, our closest neighbor isn’t all the easy to reach.
It seems like such a short distance (astronomically) of about 240,000 miles (384,000km). But once you arrive (if you arrive), there are a lot of hazards to contend with.
There are potential meteor strikes, solar winds, solar radiation and, probably the worst of all, the lunar dust.
As you can see from the NASA graphic above, lunar dust is nasty stuff that will get into everything. Although attempts to repair the Jade Rabbit will continue, it will probably be another week before there is enough sunlight to power the rover’s systems enough to see if repairs are possible.
Meanwhile, Chinese space enthusiasts using Sina Weibo (the Chinese version of twitter) quickly started posting comments and await news.
One person wrote: “Whatever happens, we must thank Jade Rabbit. When our generation tells stories to our children, we can confidently say: ‘There really is a Jade Rabbit on the moon!'” referring to the Chinese folktale about a rabbit on the Moon.
I’ll keep you posted on the status of the Jade Rabbit.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +