China's lander Chang'e-4 and rover Yutu-2 are still doing well on the Moon based on new photos and updates sent back to Earth.
Back in January, China's National Space Administration shared a photo of the far side of the moon when its lander and rover touched down on the previously uncharted area of Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin. The mission was originally designed for three lunar days, but it is now on overtime and had just concluded its fourth lunar day.
CNSA and the China Lunar Exploration Project recently posted images of the lunar terrain near the Statio Tianhe landing site and the rover's activities. Yutu-2's panoramic cameras snapped the photos.
What Are the Updates About Chang'e And Yutu?
China's current exploration of the far side of the moon has made some interesting accomplishments so far. Change' and Yutu survived their first frigid lunar night. They also made history for successfully sprouting cotton seeds on the moon, which also died later when scientists shutdown power supply. To date, the rover and lander have survived four lunar days and nights, or an equivalent of nearly 30 Earth days.
The Yutu-2 rover has now traveled a total of 178.9 meters, covering low distance and taking time to image nearby rocks and features in the regolith. The rover continues to traverse northwest of the landing site, alternating between active and hibernation modes to conserve power.
The rover and the lander were on sleeping mode on their second lunar night and started working again last Friday. Yutu-2 sent back images of lunar rocks and the landing site, and mission also identified three craters: Zhinü, Hegu, and Tianjin.
For its fourth lunar day, the rover covered relatively little ground. According to Chang'e-4 chief designer Sun Zezhou, the rover is carefully navigating the vicinity to analyze specimens with its visible and infrared spectrometer.
The latest set of images from the rover shows Yutu-2's own shadow, the early tracks it made on the lunar surface, a field view of the VNIS, and the surface inside the crater.
Martin Weiser of the Advanced Small Analyzer for Neutrals (ASAN) said the rover is healthy and continues to work nominally. There are no updates yet on the latest activities of the lander, but it is still functioning normally. Both spacecrafts are currently in hibernation mode and will wake up on April 28 ahead of their fifth lunar day.
Future Plans For The Mission
No scientific results from the exploration are available as of now, but scientists involved in the mission said there is potential evidence of excavated deep mafic material on the landing site, which could reveal the mineralogy of the lunar mantle. It is likely that CNSA would report initial insights and significant development from the mission during the Lunar and Deep Space Exploration Conference in July.
China is currently inviting international partners for its Chang'e-6 and asteroid exploration missions.