China’s lunar rover, Yutu, has set a record for the longest stay by a rover. It has been operating on the moon for almost two years.
Yutu was deployed and landed on the moon via China’s Chang’e-3 lunar probe in 2013, staying longer than the Soviet Union’s 1970 moon rover Lunokhod 1, which spent 11 months on the moon.
The official mission objective was to achieve China’s first soft-landing and roving exploration on the Moon, as well as to demonstrate and develop key technologies for future missions.
Yutu experienced a mechanical control abnormality in 2014, but it was revived within a month and, though it is unable to move, it continues to collect data, send and receive signals, and record images and video.
The launch of Dongfanghong-1, China’s first satellite, in 1970 made China the fifth country to launch a domestic satellite using a domestic rocket, following the Soviet Union, the US, France and Japan.
China launched its manned space programme in the 1990s and successfully sent Yang Liwei, the country’s first astronaut, into orbit on the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft in 2003.
Meanwhile, China is planning to be the first country to land a lunar probe on the far side of the moon, or “dark side of the moon” which is never visible to Earth. The mission will be carried out by Chang’e-4, a backup probe for Chang’e-3.
Unlike NASA and ESA, the China National Space Administration reveals little about its missions to the public, so detailed information about Chang’e 3 is limited.