Chinese Moon Rover Becomes Longest-Lived Lunar Robot

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) recently reported that its Yutu-2 lunar rover has officially surpassed the previous longevity record for a man-made probe operating on the Moon (this doesn’t include orbiting craft, though).
Yutu-2 4 photos
Photo: VCG Photo
Previously, the record was held by the Soviet Union’s Lunokhod 1 rover that operated on the Moon’s surface in 1970 and 1971, clocking up 10 and a half months of continuous working time. Now, Yutu-2 has been rolling around for over 11 months, although it has to be said it hasn’t traveled nearly as far as the Soviet rover.

Lunokhod 1 racked up 10.5 kilometers (6.5 miles) while on the lunar surface, whereas Yutu-2 has only traveled some 345 meters (1,130 feet) since it touched down on the Moon, on January 3 of 2019.

The rover has a panoramic camera that can rotate 360 degrees, as well as ground-penetrating radar with a probing depth of 30 meters, a Visible and Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer and an Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN), a tool designed to analyze how solar winds affect the lunar surface (in the hopes of discovering how water is formed on the Moon).

The lander that brought the rover to the far side of the Moon is also packed with sensors, cameras and even a science experiment. For understanding its surroundings, it relies on a 360-degree to follow the rover around, a low frequency spectrometer that analyzes solar radio bursts, as well as a neutron dosimeter to gather information about radiation (to see how it would affect humans staying on the Moon for prolonged periods).

The science experiment on-board the lander is a sealed cylinder about 18 centimeters long and 16 centimeters in diameter that contains plant seeds and insect eggs. The were placed there in order to see if they both could hatch and grow alongside one another; the atmosphere inside mimics that on earth, but they are subjected to higher radiation on the Moon, as well as its much lower gravity.

Right now, both the rover and the lander are in dormant mode since they are experiencing the lunar night cycle which lasts for about a month.

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