13 Feb 2014

Luna rover awake, but malfunctioning

8:26 pm on 13 February 2014

China's space agency says its first moon rover has regained power and is once again transmitting signals. But the vehicle, known as Jade Rabbit, is continuing to malfunction.

A model of the Jade Rabbit lunar rover.

A model of the Jade Rabbit lunar rover. Photo: AFP (file)

The Jade Rabbit (Yutu in Chinese), was deployed on 15 December last year and the first successful landing on the moon since 1976.

The rover is awake, but it's unclear whether it can complete a search for resources on the moon. Two weeks ago, scientists warned that the buggy was experiencing a "mechanical control abnormality".

There were concerns the six-wheeled vehicle did not power down properly and so would not be able to protect itself from the moon's frigid temperatures during a scheduled rest period, the BBC reports.

Scientists have now re-established contact and are under pressure to fix the rover's problems from afar. It was expected to operate for about three months.

Even if the Jade Rabbit's exploration is over, many in China see its soft landing on the moon and the first images it beamed back to Earth as proof of its success.

China is the third country to successfully send a lunar rover to the moon, after the United States and the former Soviet Union.