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No Call for Yutu
by Morris Jones
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Feb 21, 2014

Yutu rolling off the Chang'e 3 lander.

Well over a week since daylight returned to its landing site, China's Yutu Moon rover seems to be damaged beyond any practical use. That's the only reliable conclusion this analyst can reach after days of reading the available evidence, considering the options, and waiting for any sort of good news.

It is true that China reported that Yutu had made some sort of transmission a few days after sunrise. This shows that the rover was not completely dead at the time. However, this form of erratic transmissions, followed by silence, is typical of the way spacecraft die.

We have seen it so many times before. Ironically, the sunlight that was expected to heal the rover back to health may have damaged it even further as the lunar day advanced. Parts that could have been damaged by the cold lunar night could have been fractured or warped as they heated.

Is Yutu just severely damaged or is it totally dead? Right now, that's inconclusive. This writer suggested in an earlier article that it would take China some time to diagnose Yutu's faults and work out a strategy to use the rover.

This would take some time, and that would justify China's silence. Well, there has now been more than enough time to make a diagnosis and draw up some plans. China should say something new about Yutu. The world wants to know.

The overall forecast for Yutu grows bleaker with every day of inactivity and silence from Chinese officials. The world understands this, and has generally embraced Yutu and the Chang'e-3 mission that landed it with the support it deserves.

Millions of people around the world feel that they are stakeholders in this mission, just as China wanted. We need closure on the fate of our little robotic friend.

Dr Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst who has written for since 1999. Email Replace NOSPAM with @ to send email. Dr Jones will answer media inquiries.


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China National Space Administration
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What's up, Yutu
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Feb 17, 2014
It's been a few days since China said that the embattled Yutu Moon rover had sent a transmission back to Earth. Yutu suffered a mechanical anomaly roughly four weeks ago, shortly before it entered a frigid two-week lunar night. The anomaly, believed to involve a faulty solar panel mechanism, threatened to cause Yutu to freeze to death in the darkness. Yutu was apparently silent after daybr ... read more

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