Yutu-2, the rover attached to the Chang’e 4 mission, has lasted 4 times longer than expected and to mark Chang’e 4’s one-year anniversary, the Chinese Academy of Sciences released a trove of data and photos of the rarely-seen side of the moon.
The lifespan of the 6-wheeler is particularly impressive when you remember the challenges of working on the moon. One full day-night cycle on the moon is roughly 29 and a half days, meaning more than 14 days of continuous sunshine followed by more than 14 days of complete darkness.
And when the long night comes, Chang’e 4 and Yutu-2’s solar panels don’t generate enough electricity to run the spacecrafts’ instruments and systems, so the crafts have to power down and hibernate for almost two weeks, just staying alive thanks to on board radioisotopic heat sources.
The longer the rover and lander survive, the longer both can perform experiments with the suite of instruments they carry. Since the landing, the rover has driven a little more than 350 meters across the moon's surface, studying rock formations and taking additional photos. The data was collected over a period of 12 lunar "days," or most of the last year.
Find out more about the experiments, data, and photos collected during the Chang’e 4 mission and how continued study and analysis could provide insights into how the moon evolved in this Elements.
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