Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

China's imperiled Jade Rabbit moon rover: 'Goodnight, humanity'

By Wilfred Chan, CNN
January 28, 2014 -- Updated 0436 GMT (1236 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Jade Rabbit moon rover suffers serious malfunction, says state media
  • Report written in the voice of the rover says "I might not survive this lunar night"
  • Chinese social media users have flooded the rover with well-wishes
  • "Goodnight Earth, goodnight humanity," says the Jade Rabbit in the report

(CNN) -- China's brand new moon rover is already saying farewell.

The diminutive lunar explorer, known as Jade Rabbit, or "Yutu" in Chinese, was about halfway through a three-month mission to study the moon's crust when it suffered a potentially crippling breakdown, said state media.

The report, authored by China's state-run Xinhua news, was written in the voice of the rover itself.

"Although I should've gone to bed this morning, my masters discovered something abnormal with my mechanical control system," said the Xinhua report, in the voice of the Jade Rabbit. "My masters are staying up all night working for a solution. I heard their eyes are looking more like my red rabbit eyes."

Jade Rabbit moon rover in trouble
See moment lunar rover lands
China launches first moon mission

"Nevertheless, I'm aware that I might not survive this lunar night," it added.

During a lunar night, which lasts about 14 Earth days, the moon's surface temperature can plunge to minus-180 Celsius. To make it through the cold, the lunar rover must "hibernate" to preserve its delicate electronics.

If a mechanical problem keeps it from hibernating properly, then the Rabbit could freeze to death.

Named after a mythical rabbit who lives on the moon, Yutu was a source of national pride when it launched into space last December along with the lunar lander Chang'e-3, named after the moon goddess who kept Yutu by her side.

The successful lunar landing made China the third country in the world to perform a "soft landing" on the moon's surface.

Earlier, Yutu and Chang'e survived their first lunar night together, from Christmas until the second week of January.

The Chang'e-3 lander successfully entered a second hibernation on Friday and is expected to function normally for another year.

"[Chang'e] doesn't know about my problems yet," said the voice of Yutu in the Xinhua report. "If I can't be fixed, everyone please comfort her."

On social media, thousands of Chinese internet users sent their well-wishes to the little robot.

"You have done a great job, Yutu. You have endured extreme hot and cold temperatures and shown us what we have never seen," wrote one microblogger, as quoted by Xinhua.

Another wrote: "This is too heavy a burden. If the rabbit can not stand again, maybe we should let it have a rest."

Despite the setbacks, even the little Rabbit seemed aware of the odds it had overcome.

"Before departure, I studied the history of mankind's lunar probes. About half of the past 130 explorations ended in success; the rest ended in failure," noted the Jade Rabbit in its report.

"This is space exploration; the danger comes with its beauty. I am but a tiny dot in the vast picture of mankind's adventure in space.

"The sun has fallen, and the temperature is dropping so quickly... to tell you all a secret, I don't feel that sad. I was just in my own adventure story - and like every hero, I encountered a small problem," said the Rabbit.

"Goodnight, Earth," it said. "Goodnight, humanity."

Moon rover launched successfully

Is Asia on cusp of space race?

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Space
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2016 GMT (0416 HKT)
"Here comes the sun" indeed, and it was just barely all right.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Seems NASA's fascination with the moon is in the past. It's focused on something far more menacing: incoming asteroids
July 15, 2014 -- Updated 0356 GMT (1156 HKT)
Scientists looking for signs of life in the universe -- as well as another planet like our own -- are a lot closer to their goal than people realize.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1236 GMT (2036 HKT)
The U.S. Army brainchild "Project Horizon" was born. Its proposal to leap beyond the Soviets opened with the line: "There is a requirement for a manned military outpost on the moon."
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
Back in July 1969, I stood on the talcum-like lunar dust just a few feet from our home away from home, Eagle, the lunar module that transported Neil Armstrong and me to the bleak, crater-pocked moonscape.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
solar flare july 2014
From Earth, the sun appears as a constant circle of light, but when viewed in space a brilliant display of motion is revealed.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
The full moons of this summer -- July 12, August 10 and September 9 -- are supermoons, as NASA calls them.
June 29, 2014 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
If you think you saw a flying saucer over Hawaii, you might not be crazy -- except what you saw didn't come from outer space, though that may be its ultimate destination.
June 27, 2014 -- Updated 0147 GMT (0947 HKT)
The U.S. space shuttle program retired in 2011, leaving American astronauts to hitchhike into orbit. But after three long years, NASA's successor is almost ready to make an entrance.
June 13, 2014 -- Updated 1421 GMT (2221 HKT)
When I first poked my head inside Virgin Galactic's newest spaceship, I felt a little like I was getting a front-row seat to space history.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 2303 GMT (0703 HKT)
The sun is putting on a fireworks show again.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2302 GMT (0702 HKT)
A year is a very long time on Mars -- 687 days. NASA's Curiosity rover can attest that it's enough time for some unexpected life changes.
May 8, 2014 -- Updated 2205 GMT (0605 HKT)
It's hard to describe billions of years of cosmic history. But scientists have used a code to create a model of how the universe as we know it today might have evolved.
May 2, 2014 -- Updated 1800 GMT (0200 HKT)
At least one corner of the solar system may be serving up an ice-and-water sandwich, with the possibility of life on the rocks.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1503 GMT (2303 HKT)
Planetary nebula Abell 33 has taken on romantic proportions.
April 8, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
You can't see it happening on Earth, but space itself is stretching. Ever since the Big Bang happened 13.8 billion years ago, the universe has been getting bigger.
March 26, 2014 -- Updated 2059 GMT (0459 HKT)
Scientists have added another celestial body to the short list of objects in our solar system that have rings around them.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Astronomers have discovered a dwarf planet that's even farther away than Pluto.
February 28, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
Our galactic neighborhood just got a lot bigger. NASA announced the discovery of 715 new planets.
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1437 GMT (2237 HKT)
Scientists have made a breakthrough in understanding how our world as we know it came to be.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know.
ADVERTISEMENT