Jade Rabbit begins uncertain sleepComment on this story
Beijing - China's lunar rover entered its third planned sleep despite unresolved mechanical problems that threaten to disable the vehicle during the freezing 14-day lunar night.
Scientists were still working to identify the cause of the problem first reported on January 25, when the rover shut down for its second period of dormancy, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
After being declared lost on February 10, the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) reportedly awoke four days later, the official China News Service said. Its radar, panorama camera and infrared-imaging equipment were all fully functional, but only able to carry out fixed-point observations, Xinhua said, citing the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.
Surface temperatures on the moon fluctuate from daytime highs of 90 °C to below -180 °C at night. Yutu is designed to collect soil samples, survey the moon's geological structure and search for resources.
The solar-powered, six-wheeled rover weighs 120 kilograms and has a robotic arm to collect a payload of up to 20 kilograms.
The rover was launched on the Chang'e-3 spacecraft December 1, designed for a three-month mission exploring Sinus Iridum, or the Bay of Rainbows.
China became the third nation to land a spacecraft on the moon, after the United States and the former Soviet Union, when Chang'e-3 touched down on the surface December 14. - Sapa-dpa