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Moon China

China's Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover Officially Declared Lost 131

Posted by Soulskill
from the daisy,-daisy,-give-me-your-answer,-do dept.
An anonymous reader writes "'Jade Rabbit,' the first lunar rover successfully deployed by China, has now been officially declared 'lost.' The rover encountered problems on January 25th, just over a month into its planned three-month mission. 'The rover's mechanical problems are likely related to critical components that must be protected during the cold lunar night. When temperatures plunge, the rover's mast is designed to fold down to protect delicate instruments, which can then be kept warm by a radioactive heat source. Yutu also needs to angle a solar panel towards the point where the sun will rise to maintain power levels. A mechanical fault in these systems could leave the rover fatally exposed to the dark and bitter cold.'"
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China's Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover Officially Declared Lost

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:10PM (#46233447)
    Someone mentioned here how spiffy it would be to send a 1kg-class lander to the Moon, while I disagreed. Now here's another reason why that's a bad idea, one that didn't occur to me at the time: the volume vs. surface ratio, and thermal management in those extreme conditions.
  • by ericloewe (2129490) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:12PM (#46233467)

    Can the deployment be successful if the object deployed failed the majority of its mission objectives?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:28PM (#46233597)

    Just shows the difficulty of developing a space probe from scratch. By keeping a steady stream of probes going to Mars, the probe teams at JPL stay in practice, and good probe designs come about. Starting out with a small Mars probe in the late 90s, and steadily growing bigger was a good path.

  • by trims (10010) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:28PM (#46234117) Homepage

    As I pointed out on the story on Israel doing a moon mission last week, the technology and knowledge required to put an (unmanned) 100kg object on the moon (or Mars, or other celestial rock) is very well understood these days, so much so that well-financed private corporations (see the various X-prise competitors) can do it, given $100m or less. All the engineering issues are both well-known, and well-documented as to solutions. This is all out in the open press, so anyone with the capital merely has to hire enough competent engineers, and have enough money to build the resulting design. Rocket science is no longer rocket science.

    What remains extraordinarily difficult is for someone to build a long-functioning probe. The knowledge of the practical problems (and their workaround/solutions) has NOT been disseminated, and thus, pretty much everyone has to learn from scratch. Extraterrestrial probe building is still very much a Deep Magic field, with only a select few organizations (mostly NASA, but ESA too) having the experience to do it well. And they're not sharing.

    I fully expect the Chinese to get a working lander robot sometime soon. Just like I fully expect that their next one will not work to its design specs, either. In many ways, it's like building a new car from scratch - the first couple of prototypes crash badly, and you have to learn all the tricks by yourself, because nobody else shares their hard-won info with you. Tesla does well because they were able to hire experienced people from Ford, etc. who brought that knowledge with them. The Chinese Space Agency (CNSA) wasn't able to do that, for obvious reasons, so they're going to have to do the whole learning curve themselves. Good news is that they'll do it MUCH faster than anyone else did, if for no other reason that the tech and general science knowledge is more available and understood.

    -Erik

  • Dear China (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @10:14PM (#46235203) Journal

    I'm as patriotic as the next guy - "go team USA" and all that - but I'm sad to hear that your rover is lost.

    Space is not a zero-sum game. My country has decided that we're more interested in spending the dollars (that we constantly borrow from you) on social welfare programs, caring for old people, and floating eleven carrier groups in a world that doesn't have a single other navy that could fight ONE of them.

    I'm looking forward to your next space accomplishment, as I truly believe such things help ALL people, ultimately.

  • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @11:00PM (#46235455) Homepage Journal
    Doing this stuff is very hard. There are things that happen even in low earth orbit that we don't think about, that we can't relate to, because all our experience and all our common sense is tied up in this atmosphere laden gravity well.

    I have done stuff like this, and even if the top level mission objectives are not met, i.e. three month mission to explore and get data, I am sure that this mission could be listed as more than 50% successful. Things like soft landing on the moon, deploying and activating the robot, whatever the robot has done for a month, etc.

    I am sure that everyone will learn a lot from this mission. NASA has had a lot of mission that it took on with partners that probably were not even as successful as this, but there was a lot to learn from the experience.

    Again, going to space is very hard. Doing things in space is very hard, and there are a bunch of stuff that can trip you up. Not everything is going to work perfectly. NASA and the US has a great reputation because we have things like Curiosity and Voyager. But we must also remember that Hubble space telescope was almost lost, and Kepler barely completed it's primary mission and was nowhere near completing it's extended mission.

    Not saying any of this reflects poorly on anyone. Just saying space is hard.

  • by Guy Smiley (9219) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @02:19AM (#46236089)

    The US leads everybody in their belief in astrology [slashdot.org], and their disbelief in evolution as scientific fact [slashdot.org].

    The government is dominated by individuals that care more about enhancing their personal fortunes or agendas than about the long-term success of the country.

    I don't think this bodes well for the future.

As in certain cults it is possible to kill a process if you know its true name. -- Ken Thompson and Dennis M. Ritchie

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