China’s Chang’e 4 spacecraft lander and rover have resumed work for the seventeenth lunar day on the far side of the Moon after “sleeping” during the extremely cold lunar night, which prevents the rover’s and landers solar panels to obtain the necessary energy from the sun to power their necessary mission systems.
The lander woke up at 05.24 UTC on April 17, and the rover woke up at 12.57 UTC on Thursday 16, reports the Chinese Space Agency. Both are in normal operating condition, according to the National Administration’s Lunar Space and Exploration Program Center. The Chang’e 4 mission, launched on December 8, 2018, and made history when it successfully landed on the far side of the moon, inside the Von Karman Crater (180 km or 110 mi. diameter) in the South Pole-Aitken basin on January 3, 2019.
The Aitken Basin is thought to have formed after an ancient collision event on the Moon left behind the massive crater measuring 13 km (8.1 mi) in depth. According to astronomers, this massive impactor exposed some of the deepest lunar crust and even some of the moons mantle. If the Chang’e 4 mission can find and study this material, it would offer scientists an unprotected view on the Moon’s internal structural, as well as shed light on the very origins of the Moon.
Chang’e 4: On the Moon for 470 days
A lunar day equals 14 days on Earth, and a lunar night is the same length. The Chang’e 4 lander, which went into sleep mode during the lunar night due to lack of solar power, has survived about 470 Earth days on the moon.
The Yutu2 rover, or Jade Rabbit-2, has worked much longer than its three-month design life, making it the longest-running lunar rover on the moon, Xinhua reports.
With scientific instruments such as a panoramic camera, lunar radar, infrared imaging spectrometer, and neutral atom detector, the vehicle will continue to move northwest for scientific studies. Chang’e 4 mission goals include measuring the chemical composition of the soil and lunar rocks on the far side of the Moon, measuring the lunar surface temperature over the duration of the mission, carrying out low-frequency radio astronomical observations with a radio telescope it is equipped with, studying cosmic rays and observing the solar corona in order to help scientists better understand its mechanisms and characteristics.
In addition to its various scientific tasks, the Chang’e 4 mission has taken unprecedented images on the far side of the moon, revealing many unusual features that had never before been seen.
So far the Chang’e 4 mission has been a great success. In May 2019, it was reported that the mission had identified what appeared to be mantle rocks on the lunar surface, completing its primary objects.
In January 2020 the Chinese Space Agency released a massive amount of data its mission gathered on the far side of the moon, as well as high-resolution images taken by the lander and the Yutu-2 rover.