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Chinese rover may freeze to death on the moon

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Apollo 8 moon image
Apollo 8 moon image

Saturday night, China's space agency got some very bad news, and it's only getting worse. The country's first lunar rover, the Jade Rabbit, ran into a "mechanical control abnormality" over the weekend, and a growing chorus of experts indicate this may be the end of the line for the robot. Observers say the equipment failure may have disabled the electrical motors needed to close the rover's solar panels, which would have disastrous effects as the rover heads into the two-week "lunar night."

If the panels cannot be closed, the rover will almost certainly freeze during the two week span. By the time the lunar night lifts, the rover would be completely inoperable. It would cut short a planned three-month exploration of the moon, which kicked off in December with the landing of the Chang'e-3 probe. Observers have applauded the space agency's openness about the failure, and already users of Sina Weibo, Chinas' Twitter equivalent, have taken to the service to root for the seemingly doomed rover. The hashtag "hang in there Jade Rabbit" is currently trending on the service.