Tech: China’s Yutu 2 rover sends back image after 3 years on moon’s far side

Beijing, March 9 (IANS) China’s Yutu 2 rover, traversing the harsh environment of the moon’s far side, has returned a view of its path over the last three years.

Yutu 2 touched down on the lunar far side in January 2019 atop the Chang’e 4 lander, making the pair the first spacecraft to land and operate on the Moon’s hidden hemisphere.

One image offers a panorama view looking back on Yutu 2’s most recent tracks, with the Chang’e 4 lander visible far in the distance, Space.com reported.

The new images were released by Ourspace, a Chinese language science outreach channel affiliated with the China National Space Administration.

Since the duo landed, the roughly 140 kg solar-powered Yutu 2 has travelled 1,029 metres across Von Karman crater, according to new data from China’s Lunar Exploration Ground Application System.

Yutu 2 also travelled to a crater rim to check out a “mystery hut” spotted on the horizon,which turned out to be a rabbit-shaped rock, the report said.

From this point, Yutu 2 could see sections of the tracks it made in the lunar regolith, as well as its distant lander companion lower on the crater floor off to the left in the new panorama.

The rover has made a number of discoveries during its mission, including material potentially from below the moon’s crust and glass spheres likely created by meteor impacts.

Meanwhile, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has also been following Yutu 2 from orbit.

It collected some images that showed the landing site and the rover’s movement across the surface over time, the report said.

Yutu 2 and the Chang’e 4 lander each carry four science payloads and have far exceeded their design lifetimes of three months and one year, respectively.

Each operates for about two Earth weeks when the sun shines, then powers down to outlast the long, cold lunar night, the report said.

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