Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Down but not out: Jade Rabbit comes back from the dead

By Euan McKirdy for CNN
February 13, 2014 -- Updated 0744 GMT (1544 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • China's Chang'e 3 moon rover, thought to be beyond saving,has resumed signal-receiving status
  • 'Jade Rabbit' prematurely pronounced inoperative
  • Moon rover's 300,000 weibo fans rejoice

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Reports of Jade Rabbit's demise may have been premature.

China's first lunar rover had stopped functioning, state media reported Wednesday, but signs are emerging that Yutu, as it is known in Mandarin, may be up and running again.

Following technical malfunctions Xinhua said that the lunar rover had lost communication with mission control but on Thursday the state news agency said that the rover was "fully awake" and had returned to its normal signal-receiving status.

"Jade Rabbit has fully resurrected and is able to receive signals, but still suffers a mechanical control abnormality," China's lunar program spokesman Pei Zhaoyu told Xinhua.

Jade Rabbit moon rover in trouble
Jade Rabbit begins exploring the Moon
China aims to make lunar history

"The rover entered hibernation while in an abnormal state. We were worried it wouldn't be able to make it through the extreme cold of the lunar night. But it came back alive. The rover stands a chance of being saved as it is still alive."

READ MORE: China's moon landing

Xinhua also posted a screenshot of the Chang'e-3 Moon Probe's Sina Weibo account, which, at 8.49am Thursday morning local time, asked: "Is anyone out there?"

The rover has over 300,000 followers on the Chinese Twitter-like social media site, some of whom celebrated the lucky robot's resurrection.

One Weibo user said that the rabbit was "waking up for the [Chinese lantern] festival" which starts on Friday.

Another took a cynical view, commenting that some countries would "be disappointed" at China's space program's ability to come back from the dead.

An amateur website dedicated to monitoring radio signals from space also reported on its Twitter account that it had detected "pretty good signals" from the device.

The lunar rover's end seemed near when it signed off at the end of January with a poignant message: "Goodnight humanity."

READ MORE: China's moon rover launched successfully

The device had been out of action for two weeks following a technical malfunction, and media around the world filed its obituary late on Wednesday after a short statement on Chinese state media alerted the world to its apparent terminal failings.

"China's first lunar rover, Yutu, could not be restored to full function on Monday as expected," the report stated.

However, the robot has given its fans in China and around the world hope that it will resume its planned three-month mission and continue examining the moon's surface for potential resources.

The deputy chief designer of the Chang-e probe system told China National Radio the technical team is still trying to determine the source of problem and work on the plan for repair.

Should Jade Rabbit make a full recovery, it would cap another success for space exploration, which has seen NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, currently exploring the red planet, far outlast its expected lifespan.

CNN's Zhang Dayu and Wilfred Chan contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0452 GMT (1252 HKT)
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1942 GMT (0342 HKT)
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0631 GMT (1431 HKT)
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0656 GMT (1456 HKT)
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0836 GMT (1636 HKT)
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
ADVERTISEMENT