China's Jade Rabbit moon rover suffers technical problems
China’s Jade Rabbit lunar rover mission is in jeopardy after the craft experienced a ‘mechanical control abnormality’ on Saturday (January 25).
The abnormality occurred before the rover entered its second dormancy as the lunar night approached. According to CCTV, Chinese officials said the abnormality occurred due to the “complicated lunar surface environment”, without giving further details.
The solar-powered probe is scheduled to shut down for the lunar night, which lasts more than two weeks. The temperature during that time drops to minus 180 °C. The probe survived its first shutdown, during which it is unable to generate energy from its solar panels and relies on a radioactive power source to keep its equipment intact.
The Daily Mail reported that online speculation has focused on the possibility of lunar dust having blocked one of the solar panels from folding inward, leaving sensitive equipment exposed to the dangerously low temperatures.
When sunlight hits the moon's surface it causes dust grains to eject electrons. Electrostatic repulsion among like charges could cause dust particles to levitate up to 1 meter above the lunar surface.
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