China’s Chang’E 3 Yutu rover is a dead rabbit after its solar array failed to protect it from the cold12 Feb 2014, 10:15 UTC
It has been reported that China’s Yutu (“Jade Rabbit”) lunar rover has failed to reactivate and return telemetry signals two days after its second lunar night ended. The problem stemmed from a failure before the two-Earth week long night fell to fold back a solar array which was needed to hold in heat from its radioisotope heaters to protect its electronics. The full details have been revealed by spacedaily.com
Yutu lunar rover showing the Chinese national flag and telecommunications dish on the Moon. Courtesy: CNSA/CCTV
According to reports, China has a back up Yutu rover which will be launched on the Chang’E 4 mission. A Chang’E 5 mission is planned to follow this which will be an unmanned sample return mission from the moon.
Comment by David Todd: The Yutu Rover design (above) apparently has an open electronics bay with no roof – good for cooling in daylight but not so good in a sub-zero lunar night. Hence, that is why the rover needed its solar arrays to fold over to keep its key electronics warm during this period. You can bet that China will put a roof onto its next Yutu despite the mass penalty in doing so. ...