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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 @07:10PM (#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 Anonymous Coward

      Well, they shouldn't have built it at Foxconn...

      On the bright side, it's still more successful than Slashdot Beta

      • It was not a manufacturing problem. It ran off a cliff because the development teams used two types of abacus and fucked up the calculations.
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Well, they shouldn't have built it at Foxconn...

        You mean they shouldn't have built it in China, that is. After all, the manufacturer saw that they could make a few extra bucks by using cheaper parts in it and pocketing the difference. Why bother using the expensive components they specify? Just substitute with cheaper ones - they won't know the difference and it's a few more dollars in the pocket.

        Or perhaps they ripped off the design and produced a counterfeit part during the third shift?

    • A Lunar "day" lasts for two weeks. To win the Google Lunar X Prize, the rover has to travel 500m. To do that in 14 days, you only need to average 0.0004m/sec. After that, you have your $20M, so who cares if your rover dies when the sun sets?

      • by dwater (72834)

        I hope they manage to recover it. I'm glad it managed to survive the night without any further damage...

  • This is going to be great!

    I'll be able to open the first junkyard on the Moon at this rate =)

    • This is going to be great!

      I'll be able to open the first junkyard on the Moon at this rate =)

      The Jade Rabbit is nothing compared to the "junk" left all over the moon by the Apollo Missions. Even the Soviets left more crap on the moon than China.

      In this respect it's still USA #1 with China nor any other country not even close to ever catching up.

      • The Jade Rabbit is nothing compared to the "junk" left all over the moon by the Apollo Missions

        Yeah, but it's wicked awesome cool junk -

        - Moon cars
        - Hasselblad cameras
        - Descent stages
        - Plaques
        - Laser reflectors
        - Space boots

        Granted, the golf balls and urine bags are a bit messy.

    • Nah. The money's in bringing it back [wikipedia.org].

  • ORLY? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:11PM (#46233457)

    Nice and strong signal from Yutu: http://www.moonviews.com/2014/02/yutu-rover-has-phoned-home-from-the-moon.html

  • by ericloewe (2129490) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:12PM (#46233467)

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

    • Yes. from http://dictionary.reference.co... [reference.com]:

      deploy
      verb
      (used without object)
      4. to come into a position ready for use: the plane can't land unless the landing gear deploys.

      • Just because it landed and deployed its landing gear doesn't mean it accomplished all its design goals. Geez, imagine an Eagle that landed and expected to spend 3 months on the moon and yet ran out of battery after the first week. "Mission accomplished!"
        • Sorry, I should have expounded a little more. I read the article and the discussion here intending to ask the same question that ericlowe did. I answered much too concisely after I looked up the definition, so I skipped some of the thought process.
          I didn't mean to imply that it was successful, only that the machine deployed from its lander [xinhuanet.com]. I suppose that I would have been more complete had I said that it had deployed properly up to "x" point, then failed at "y." (In the example that dictionary.com provid
    • by radtea (464814)

      Philosophical answer: who cares?

      You've really posed a political question, which is what "philosophical questions" become when anyone cares about them.

      "What abstract category shall we put this concrete reality in" only matters to people who think abstractions exist independently of knowing subjects, which is say, idiots.

      Nothing "is" a "failure" or a "success". Things actively assigned to the categories failure and success by knowing subjects. The act of assignment is useful. It reduces the extreme cognitive

    • by Mal-2 (675116)

      Relatively speaking, yes. If it had failed to land softly and had instead cratered, that'd just be an epic fail. If it had blown up on the launch pad, that would be a complete embarrassment. If it had failed to phone home at all, that would be a different type of fail. As it is, they got it there in one piece and deployed it and proved that it worked. It just didn't KEEP working, which is hopefully a solvable problem. This means it makes sense to send up bigger, more expensive missions, which might not have

      • When queried on the loss of the rover the Chinese government replied "We are at a loss to explain this failure, after all it worked in Kerbal Space Program..."
    • by fermion (181285) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @12:00AM (#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 khallow (566160)

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

      Of course. It depends on the relative importance of those mission objectives and whether they were considered necessary for success or not. Out of curiosity, what makes you think it failed the majority of its mission objectives?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    https://twitter.com/uhf_satcom/status/433702655290908672

  • China is ascending (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:13PM (#46233471)

    China is ascending the learning curve. Space provides a lot of tough problems. I wonder how many more visits NASA will be getting in the future, both official, and "unofficial"?

    NASA's Strict Rules for Talking to and Working with China [vice.com]

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      The US lunar Ranger project in the mid 60's took 7 tries before it finally was able to work. A lot of knowledge about redundancy, testing, clean-rooms, and QA was gained in the process.

      I'd love to be in there for the cheers when 7 finally clicked. Imagine failing 6 times, waiting for the news, and finally getting confirmation?

      The bazaar thing is that the 1962 Mariner II, the first interplanetary probe (to Venus) mostly worked, and it was based off of early Ranger designs. Maybe more sun helped?

    • Speaking to the article quoted, any rocket which can achieve orbit can be used as a military missile with a warhead or satellite of the same payload size/specs, and almost any imaging system which can be pointed at space or a planet can be pointed at ours. So, maybe the surprise should be that individual scientists are allowed to cooperate at all internationally given there is a genuine national security interest (as opposed to "OMG! Turrerists!") And yes, NASA (and their predecessors) had a very steep le
  • Figures (Score:5, Funny)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:13PM (#46233477)
    It was made with cheap American parts!
  • by msobkow (48369) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:14PM (#46233485) Homepage Journal

    Their mission had been going so well until the failure. It had been looking like it would be a good promotional piece for the Chinese, now it's just another failed space mission.

    Well, not a complete failure. They did get there, and the rover was working for quite some time.

    Ah well, could have been worse. Could have just failed utterly like that Mars launch a few years back. I forget who did that one.

    • Re:What a shame (Score:4, Informative)

      by ericloewe (2129490) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:22PM (#46233557)

      The Mars Climate Orbiter... [wikipedia.org]

      Lockheed Martin screwed that one up. The specs called for all measurements to be SI, but a specific piece of software written by Lockheed Martin returned the value in imperial units - the error spread and ruined all calculations that depended on it.

      Since this happened while calculating how to achieve the desired orbit, the result was a resounding disaster.

    • Their mission had been going so well until the failure. It had been looking like it would be a good promotional piece for the Chinese, now it's just another failed space mission.

      The mission consisted of 2 parts, a lander, and a rover. The Lander has been functioning very well since touchdown, and the rover did finally phone home making the rumors of it's death exaggerated.

    • by Andrewkov (140579)

      Their mission had been going so well until the failure

      I think that could describe a lot of missions.

  • Hello! (Score:5, Informative)

    by change-yutu (3535305) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:25PM (#46233583)
    I'm not dead yet! https://twitter.com/uhf_satcom... [twitter.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.

    • with all the probes we're sending out, is it any wonder the greys are coming here and stuffing a few up people's arses every now and then?
  • by joe_frisch (1366229) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:31PM (#46233621)

    The US space program had all sorts of problems early on - a bunch of Ranger probes failed. The key was that they kept trying until it worked.

    Will China keep trying until they get it right, or will they decide that space is too hard?

    • by lennier1 (264730)

      Considering how many probes were lost to various factors over the decades, coming this far on their first try actually wasn't half bad.

      • by dryeo (100693)

        Third try, the first was a hard landing in 2009 after a successful 16 month lunar oribting mission, second a repeat of the first except instead of doing a hard lunar landing, it went to L2 and then visited the asteroid 4179 Toutatis and is still going to give the Chinese experience in deep space tracking and control.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C... [wikipedia.org]

    • The US space program had all sorts of problems early on - a bunch of Ranger probes failed. The key was that they kept trying until it worked.

      Russia was orbiting the Moon, while the U.S. was still trying to hit it with Rangers :}

    • by dryeo (100693)

      They're planning another more advanced rover then a lunar soil sample return mission in 2018. Considering this mission was mostly successful I doubt that they'll change their plans much, perhaps a bit of delay while trying to figure what failed on this mission.

  • Just another quality product "Made In China"

  • That's going to be an interesting PayPal claim.
  • The Jade Rabbit is the best vibrator I've ever owned. Do yourself a favor and get one (or two!).
    They go great on the clit, in the pussy, in the ass, tickling the dick or nipples, and (my personal favorite) pressed up tight against your taint, just under the scrotum.

    • by achbed (97139)

      The Jade Rabbit is the best vibrator I've ever owned. Do yourself a favor and get one (or two!). They go great on the clit, in the pussy, in the ass, tickling the dick or nipples, and (my personal favorite) pressed up tight against your taint, just under the scrotum.

      But they really don't work well when it's 100K. Of course, if you were to touch your taint with an object at that temperature, I think you might get a variant of the tongue-on-flagpole effect, much to your displeasure.

  • by trims (10010) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @08:28PM (#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

    • by khallow (566160)

      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.

      NASA at least has been sharing. But that's the sort of knowledge that either gets buried in a forty year old NASA journal or never put to paper in the first place because nobody thought it was important enough to do so.

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @09:19PM (#46234503)
    It is better to have roved and lost than to have never roved at all.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It is better to have roved and lost than to have never roved at all.

      Ah, the moral problem you present: rate you up +1 for being clever or -1 for being racist....

  • With the US, they would have considered more possibilities of how to handle disasters.

    With China, it's mostly about the events that generate PR (and thus face-saving) value. The lunar rover's construction is considered an afterthought except for getting it to the desired event.

  • Are you kidding? (Score:5, Informative)

    by cyfer2000 (548592) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @09:50PM (#46234737) Journal
    I don't know what koolaid you guys have been drinking, but Chinese news says the rabbit has waked up [sina.com.cn].
  • by Trax3001BBS (2368736) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @10:21PM (#46234911) Homepage Journal

    I guess it's some really tenacious stuff, and very abrasive.

    On board the LEM the astronauts took out rocks to look at them, the dust was so fine it got under their finger nails and took several weeks to grow out.
    - Harrison H. Schmitt (Apollo 17)

  • Dear China (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @11:14PM (#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 rinka (870438)

      Really wish I could mod this up.

      Completely with you argStyopa

    • 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.

      I wonder why Americans often feel the need to qualify their support for another country by making sure it's known how "patriotic" they are. It sounds very, very weird from the outside (in this case Oz).

  • I read that around the same time, Al-Qaeda had discovered a new vehicle to move their weapons of mass destruction. Code red, Kano!

  • They can get the rover to the Moon but they can't get it to work. Meanwhile the United States has successfully put four rovers down on Mars without much issue. Sojourner, Opportunity, Spirit, and Curiosity. All of them deployed successfully and in the cases of Opportunity and Spirit both performed WELL beyond expectations.

    And Curiosity is doing a bang up job too. I guess it sucks that the Chinese spies couldn't infiltrate the groups that developed those rovers.
    • by matfud (464184)

      All the Pioneer and Ranger missions?
      Luna, Cosmos, Zond?

      Yep lots of failures.

      • by matfud (464184)

        Really it is fucking amazing that it got there.
        Curiosity! Well that is beyond anyone’s expectations. The little thing just keeps going.

  • http://www.ecns.cn/z/2013/Laun... [www.ecns.cn]
    News of its death sadly premature :p.

    • by rinka (870438)

      Yeah, Indian papers are full of how the rover survived the lunar night.

      I wish them the best of luck and hope that the mechanical faults are minor.

  • Did everyone see some photos or videos of what the rover did in the first month, apart from the one photo of the rover when it first landed? From the beginning it seems impossible to find any bit of information about this mission. Was this a kind of secret mission, or what? I mean, not every day someone is walking around on the moon.

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