China moon rover ‘Jade Rabbit’ wakes from ‘nap’

File photo showing a robotic lunar rover on the "dark side" of the moon. (AFP via CNS)
Updated 10 January 2019
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China moon rover ‘Jade Rabbit’ wakes from ‘nap’

  • The rover went into standby mode to protect itself from temperatures of 200 degrees Celsius
  • China’s space agency has said the mission “lifted the mysterious veil” from the far side of the moon

Beijing: China’s lunar rover got back to work on the far side of the moon Thursday after waking from a five-day hibernation, its official social media page announced.
“Afternoon nap is over, waking up and getting moving,” the Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit-2) posted on the Twitter-like Weibo.
The rover on Saturday went into standby mode to protect itself from temperatures reaching toward 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit), the China Lunar Exploration Program under the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.
The 140-kilogram (308-pound) rover has since resumed activities, which will include taking a picture of the front side of the lander and exploration missions.
The Chang’e 4 mission — named after a moon goddess — made the world’s first soft landing on the moon’s far side on January 3.
The rover, named after the moon goddess’s pet rabbit, successfully separated from the lander and drove onto the moon’s surface last Thursday.
Beijing is pouring billions into its military-run space program, with hopes of having a crewed space station by 2022, and of eventually sending humans on a lunar mission.
This is the second Chinese probe to land on the moon, following the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover mission in 2013.
China’s space agency has said the mission “lifted the mysterious veil” from the far side of the moon, which is never seen from Earth, and “opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration.”
Unlike the near side of the moon that offers many flat areas to touch down on, the far side is mountainous and rugged.
The moon is “tidally locked” to Earth in its rotation so the same side is always facing Earth.
The Chang’e 4 probe is equipped with instruments developed by scientists from Sweden, Germany and China to study the lunar environment, cosmic radiation and the interaction between solar wind and the moon’s surface, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Chang’e 4 landed within the South Pole-Aitken (SPA) Basin, the largest and deepest impact crater in the solar system.
Scientists have said it is a key area for solving several unknowns about the moon, including its internal structure and thermal evolution.


Russian scientists find defect in new heavy lift space rocket engine

Updated 18 January 2019
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Russian scientists find defect in new heavy lift space rocket engine

  • The new heavy lift space rocket is capable of carrying more than 20 tons into the orbit
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said the project is very important for the country's defense

MOSCOW: Scientists have discovered a defect in the engines of Russia’s new flagship heavy lift space rocket that could destroy it in flight, an apparent setback to a project President Vladimir Putin has said is vital for national security.
The Angara A5, which was test-launched in 2014, is being developed to replace the Proton M as Russia’s heavy lift rocket, capable of carrying payloads bigger than 20 tons into orbit. A launch pad for the new rocket is due to open in 2021.
In July, Putin said the Angara A5 had “huge significance” for the country’s defense and called on space agency Roscosmos to work more actively on it and to meet all its deadlines.
The issue with the Angara A5 was brought to attention by scientists at rocket engine manufacturer Energomash in a paper ahead of a space conference later this month.
The paper, reported by RIA news agency on Friday and published online, said the engines of the Angara A5 could produce low frequency oscillations that could ultimately destroy the rocket.
A special valve had been fitted to mitigate the issue, but in some cases the oscillations continued, it said. Energomash did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Russia’s space program has been dogged by mishaps in recent years, including failed cargo delivery missions into space and the aborted launch in October of the manned Soyuz mission to the International Space Station. Russia’s current heavy lift rocket, the Proton M, has had a nearly 10 percent failure rate in more than 100 launches since it entered service in 2001, creating pressure to reorganize and improve the space program.