Jade Rabbit on the lunar surface in a still image taken from video provided by China Central Television

Jade Rabbit lunar rover still malfunctioning

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover is still malfunctioning after emerging from its second 14-day lunar night, state media said today.

The rover, named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, landed in mid-December, on a mission to do geological surveys and hunt for natural resources, but began experiencing "mechanical control abnormalities" late in January when entering its second lunar night, a period that exposes the surface to extreme cold.

Scientists had said the outcome of the repair efforts would be unclear until the rover emerged from the period of darkness, during which it is supposed to shut down, but after awakening this week the rover still not functioning properly, China National Radio said, citing Pei Zhaoyu, a spokesman for the lunar probe programme.

"It's awake. We have a signal. But the problem still hasn't been resolved," Pei said, but gave no further details.

Experts are still working to fix the rover, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China has been increasingly ambitious in developing its space programmes for military, commercial and scientific purposes, but it is still playing catch-up to established space superpowers the USA and Russia.

The Jade Rabbit, and the Chang'e 3 probe that delivered it, marked the first "soft landing" on the moon since 1976, before which both the US and the Soviet Union accomplished the feat.

Further information

E&T's Wordpress blog has featured several detailed infographics relating to China's space program, including one about the Jade Rabbit rover.

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