Chinese Rover and Lander Survive 1st Frigid Night on Moon’s Far Side

Roughly two weeks ago, at the mission’s Von Karman Crater landing site, China’s Chang’e 4 lander and rover were put to sleep as the night fell. The lander and the rover have been awakened by the sunlight in the first extremely cold night on the moon. It was announced by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Thursday, January 31. They both are in a good shape following a cold spell on the moon.

The CNSA officials said that the rover, Yutu 2, also nicknamed as Jade Rabbit 2, woke up at about 8:00 p.m. China time on Tuesday, Jan 29 and the lander followed the suit 24 hours later. The lander woke up at 8:39 p.m. on Wednesday. They survived their first lunar night after making the first-ever smooth landing on the far side of the moon. China’s Chang’e 4 probe landed on the Von Karman Crater in the huge South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon on January 3, 2019. It was launched on December 8 in 2018.

China Chang'e 4 moon mission
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Image Credit: NASA

One lunar day equals 14 days on Earth and the same is the length of a lunar night.

It was also noted by the CNSA officials that the communication and the data transmission between mission control on the Earth and the farside hardware i.e. the probe via the relay satellite Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) are stable.

Chang’e 4 probe switched to the dormant mode during the lunar night because of the lack of solar power. Both of them, the lander and the rover, came out of that dormant mode automatically in accordance with the elevation angle of the sunlight. Additionally, the mission officials said that the key instruments have started to work again.

At the present moment, the rover is located about 18 meters (60 feet) northwest of the lander.

The executive director of the Chang’e 4 project, Zhang He told, “According to the measurements of Chang’e 4, the temperature of the shallow layer of the lunar soil on the far side of the moon is lower than the data obtained by the US Apollo mission on the near side of the moon. That’s probably due to the difference in lunar soil composition between the two sides of the moon. We still need more careful analysis.”

Previously, the rover went on standby earlier in January to protect itself from the lunar surface heat. The Chinese space agency noted temperature upwards of 390˚F.

Xinhua reported earlier in January that the probes were deployed on January 3 to study the cosmic radiation, lunar environment, and interaction between moon’s surface and solar wind.

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