Chinese rover Jade Rabbit 2 powers up devices in pioneering moon mission

China’s lunar rover leaves wheel marks after leaving the lander that touched down on the surface of the far side of the moon. (China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency via AP)
Updated 05 January 2019
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Chinese rover Jade Rabbit 2 powers up devices in pioneering moon mission

  • The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has succeeded in establishing a digital transmission link
  • China’s space program lags America’s, but has made great strides in the past 15 years

BEIJING: All systems are go as a Chinese spacecraft and rover power up their observation equipment after making a first-ever landing on the far side of the moon, the Chinese National Space Administration said.
The Jade Rabbit 2 rover has succeeded in establishing a digital transmission link with a relay satellite that sends data back to the Beijing control center, the space agency said in a posting late Friday on its website.
The rover’s radar and panoramic camera have been activated and are working normally, it said. A photo released by the agency showed the rover stopped at a point not far from where the Chang’e 4 spacecraft touched down Thursday.
Chang’e 4, named after a Chinese moon goddess, is the first craft to make a soft landing on the moon’s far side, which faces away from Earth. Previous landings, including one by China’s Chang’e 3 in 2013, have been on the near side.
After sending the rover off from a ramp, the spacecraft deployed three 5-meter (16-foot) low-frequency radio antennas, the Chinese space agency said. Chang’e 4 also has sent back images taken with a topographical camera.
Researchers hope that low-frequency observations of the cosmos from the far side, where radio signals from Earth are blocked by the moon, will help scientists learn more about the early days of the solar system and even the birth of the universe’s first stars.
Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb noted, however, that the relay satellite needed to send back information from the far side also contaminates the sky.
“As long as we keep it clean of radio interference, the far side of the moon is very good for radio astronomy,” he said.
The far side has been observed many times from lunar orbits, but never explored on the surface. It is popularly called the “dark side” because it can’t be seen from Earth and is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.
“It’s just the far side, it can be either dark or light,” Loeb said, depending on the time of day.
The pioneering landing highlights China’s ambitions to rival the US, Russia and Europe in space. Both China’s space community and public have taken pride in the accomplishment, with some drawing comparisons to the United States.
China’s space program lags America’s, but has made great strides in the past 15 years, including manned flights and a space laboratory that is seen as a precursor to plans for a space station.


Google to prompt Android users to choose preferred browsers to allay EU concerns

Updated 20 March 2019
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Google to prompt Android users to choose preferred browsers to allay EU concerns

  • The European Commission last year fined Google for using its mobile software to block rivals
  • Google will now try to ensure that Android users are aware of other browsers and search engines

BRUSSELS, Belgium: Alphabet’s Google will prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps, a senior Google executive said on Tuesday, as the company seeks to allay EU antitrust concerns and ward off fresh sanctions.
The European Commission last year handed Google a record 4.34 billion euro ($4.9 billion) fine for using the market power of its mobile software to block rivals in areas such as Internet browsing. By pre-installing its Chrome browser and Google search app on Android devices, Google had an unfair advantage over its rivals, EU enforcers said.
Google will now try to ensure that Android users are aware of browsers and search engines other than its own services, Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs, said in a blog.
“In the coming months, via the Play Store, we’ll start asking users of existing and new Android devices in Europe which browser and search apps they would like to use,” he wrote without providing details.
The company, which introduced a licensing fee for device makers to access its app marketplace after the EU sanction, does not plan to scrap the charge.
Google could be fined up to 5 percent of Alphabet’s average daily worldwide turnover if it fails to comply with the EU order to stop anti-competitive practices.