Thursday, March 3, 2016

China's Lunar Probe Sets Record for Longest Stay

China's Yutu rover on the moon. Credit: Xinhua

Chang'e-3, China's first lunar lander, has been operating on the moon for over two years, the longest time for an active probe, according to a Chinese scientist. The probe has exceeded its operational life of one year and has been in service for 15 extra months since landing on the moon on Dec. 14, 2013.

"It seems that Chang'e-3 will continue to keep working," said Ye Peijian, chief scientist with the Chang'e-3 program.

The State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced on Feb. 18 that Chang'e-3 had woken automatically after hibernating for the lunar night, and had entered its 28th lunar day.

Its astronomical telescope and other surveying devices are still working well, SASTIND said.

Lunar rover Yutu, which hitched a ride with Chang'e-3, was designed to operate for six months.

"Now, because of a mechanical control abnormality, Yutu is immobile. The defect also affected the solar panels that cover the rover during the lunar night to protect it from the harsh temperatures. Despite the panels not working, Yutu still continues to collect and sent data to Earth thanks to its innovative temperature control system," said Ye.

China has shared the data collected by Chang'e-3 probe with the world, helping scientists understand more about the moon and space, Ye said. 

Credit: xinhuanet.com

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