Either Chinese officials monitoring the country’s first moon rover,Yutu, jumped the gun a bit yesterday, or today they’re just overly optimistic, but either way, they’re reporting (via Xinhua) that the little research vehicle may not be dead after all.
“Yutu has come back to life!” said one – presumably excited – source. It’s not known what caused the glitch that led them to the sad announcement that Yutu was permanently stuck, but now it has returned to its normal functioning state, having come out of hibernation after several weeks of lunar night.
The Yutu rover on the moon’s surface. Image captured by the Chan’e 3 lander. Source: Planetary
The original problem occurred towards the end of January, just before Yutu was set to power down for a couple of weeks to sit out the lunar night cycle. The problem then, was that with an improper shutdown, certain key components may not have been protected from the sheer cold of a sunless-vacuum and that theoretically some abrasive lunar dust could have snuck in and damaged important instruments.
When Yutu then failed to rouse itself at the end of the lunar night cycle, it was declared deceased, but now it looks like it might be set to make a comeback. While it can’t begin its missions as of yet, as there are still some teething issues with its systems, it’s hoped that with a little work it will be able to resume its task of gathering samples of the moon’s surface.
Kitguru Says: This is great news. While Yutu is hardly breaking new ground with its research, the more working spacecraft we get up there the better. Plus it’s hard enough getting these things on to the Mun in KSP, let alone doing it real life. You have to be impressed.