The Chinese lunar rover, Yutu 2, took new images of the lunar surface, highlighting more details on the far side of the moon. The space mission, which managed to make the first successful landing in this region of our natural satellite, is starting the 24th day lunar spot.
The mission information is updated during the moon’s nighttime period, when low temperatures – which can reach -180º Celsius – force the rover to hibernate. In the most recent update of the Yutu 2 travel diary, a series of photographs was released, including a panoramic image showing a large crater in the middle of a desolate landscape and the distant edge of the Von Kármán crater, where the Chang’e spacecraft 4 landed in early January 2019.
A lunar day (or night) is equivalent to 14 days on Earth. Between that period, the rover carries out its activities. His most recent goal would be to approach a rock to identify it during the lunar day and see if it would be an interesting target, however, he was unable to move to the location. For this reason, he used his spectrometer to analyze another substance found in a rock, which had already been discovered in July, and has been described as “gel-like” and with an “unusual color”.
The National Space Administration of China (CNSA) team has been using software that performs 3D mapping of the moon’s surface to help chart a route for the rover. As the terrain is uneven, the Yutu 2 may become trapped or suffer accidents during its movement. Some of the images detail the routes planned by the CNSA team, so that the Chinese rover can move between the various craters that can trap it.
Both the Chang’e 4 landing module and the Yutu 2 rover had an estimated useful life of one year and three months, respectively. Despite this, both continue to function well, according to the CNSA. In all, the mission has so far survived 23 lunar days and nights on the far side of the moon, the equivalent of just over 670 Earth days.
This is the longest time that equipment built by mankind has been active on the lunar surface. The previous record belonged to the Soviet rover Lunokhod 1, which was in operation for 321 days, or 10 months, 2 weeks and 3 days, between the years 1970 and 1971.
China hopes to launch its next lunar mission, Chang’e 5, still in 2020, in late November. The goal will be to land on the side closest to the natural satellite and collect about 2 kg of rocks.