China’s lunar rover back in action after second two-week nap

World Today

FILE – In this file photo taken Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, models of Chinese Chang’e IV Relay Satellite, right, and Lunar Probe Consists are displayed during the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, also known as Airshow China 2018, in Zhuhai city, south China’s Guangdong province. China’s lunar mission Chang’e 1, named after a mythological Chinese moon goddess, first circled the moon in 2007. Successive lunar missions have included a moon landing in 2013, the first since the former Soviet Union’s Luna 24 in 1976. There are plans for a Chang’e 5 probe to reach the moon next year and return to Earth with samples. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

China’s lunar probe is back to work after waking up from its two-week nap. The solar-powered lander and rover go dormant during the lunar night, which lasts 14 days on earth. CGTN’s Gerald Tan takes us through some the accomplishments of the mission so far.

The Chang’e-4 mission — named after the Chinese goddess of the moon. It sought out one of the largest, oldest impact craters in the solar system and made the first soft-landing on the FAR side of the Moon. A litany of other historic achievements followed.

While the United States gave us ‘One Small Step for Man,’ China has given us ‘One Giant LEAF for Mankind’ — the first plant ever to grow on the lunar surface. Call it the future of farming in space.

The clock is ticking on Yutu-2. The rover’s already exceeded its three-month life expectancy. It’s using ground-penetrating radar to peer beneath the lunar surface and analyze rocks.

Yutu’s instruments will try to determine if this rock is native to the Moon or from outer space. It could date to near the time of the Big Bang some 14-billion years ago.

Another precedent-setting achievement is the Queqiao relay satellite out beyond the Moon that bounces data to-and-from Earth. No one’s ever done this before, either. And, because of their unobstructed view, antennae on the satellite and the lander can clearly hear the timeless rumbling of the universe; signals that are only faint whispers on Earth.

What’s next? Another moon mission by the end of this year to retrieve lunar samples and bring them back. And, a rover mission to Mars next year. But, what the current mission so vividly demonstrates, is that for China, there’s nothing final about the Final Frontier.