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China’s ‘Jade Rabbit’ Rover Is Dead, and This Time It Probably Won’t Come Back

Farewell, Yutu, you reached for the Moon.

by Victoria Turk
Aug 3 2016, 12:30pm

Image: Chinese National Space Administration/Wikimedia

Farewell, Jade Rabbit, you plucky little rover. Chinese state media report that the lunar rover has given up the ghost after an impressive 30-month mission. This time, it's not expected to come back to life.

The Yutu rover ("Jade Rabbit") was launched to the Moon in December 2013 with the Chang'e 3 lander but experienced issues the following month which left it vulnerable to the cold lunar night, culminating in a heart-wrenching episode in which it (unofficially) live-blogged its own death.

The saga wasn't over, however, as Yutu made an unexpected resurrection and began to communicate again.

Chinese news agency Xinhua writes that, this time, a source from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense confirmed the rover had ceased operations.

Despite its technical wobble, the bold rover had an impressive run. Intended for a three-month mission, it ended up setting a new record for the longest operational period of a lunar robot, even if it was unable to move for a large chunk of that.

And Yutu conducted a host of research while it was active, giving insight into the Moon's geological past and even discovering a new type of Moon rock.

But the rover's real legacy will be guarded by the legion of fans it found online, such as on Chinese social network Sina Weibo. As the motivational saying goes, if you reach for the Moon, you'll land among the stars.

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