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February 14, 2019

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Chang’e-4 probe switched to dormant after stable progress

THE lander and the rover of the Chang’e-4 probe have been switched to dormant mode for the lunar night after working stably during the past lunar day, the China National Space Administration has announced.

The lander was switched to a dormant mode at 7pm on Monday as scheduled, and the rover, Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2), at 8pm, said the CNSA.

According to China’s Lunar and Deep Space Exploration Center, the rover will be woken up on February 28 and the lander on March 1.

The CNSA said the Chang’e-4 probe worked stably during its second lunar day. The payloads on board including a low-frequency radio astronomical instrument, a neutron radiation detector, an infrared imaging spectrometer and neural atomic detector have been operating smoothly as scheduled.

During its second lunar day, a camera installed on the rover Yutu-2 took 360-degree panoramic photos.

Yutu-2 has driven 120 meters on the far side of the moon, breaking the record of 114.8 meters made by its predecessor, Yutu, China’s first rover on the lunar surface in late 2013.

China’s Chang’e-4 probe, launched on December 8, landed on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon on January 3.

A lunar day equals 14 days on Earth, and a lunar night is the same length.

The radioisotope heat source, a collaboration between Chinese and Russian scientists, will support the probe through the lunar night when the temperature falls.

The Chang’e-4 probe woke from its first lunar night on January 31. According to the measurements of Chang’e-4, the temperature of the lunar surface dropped to as low as minus 190 degrees Celsius, colder than expected.

It is the first time Chinese scientists have received first-hand data about the temperatures on the surface of the moon during the lunar night.

Last Friday, the US space agency NASA said its Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter had taken a photo of the Chang’e-4 landing site.

The lander and rover can be seen nestled among craters of the Von Karman Crater.


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