Chinese Yutu-2 Rover Embarks on Weeks-Long 80-Metre Journey to Reach 'Moon Cube,' Here’s Why
17:43 GMT 10.12.2021 (Updated: 20:47 GMT 19.10.2022)
© AP Photo / China National Space Administration/Xinhua News AgencyIn this photo provided Jan. 12, 2019, by China National Space Administration via Xinhua News Agency, the rover Yutu-2 is seen in a photo taken by the lander of the Chang'e-4 probe on Jan. 11, 2019
© AP Photo / China National Space Administration/Xinhua News Agency
After 1,000 days of operation, the Chinese rover traversed a distance of 839 metres on the lunar surface.
As China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover set off to investigate a peculiar shape dubbed the “moon cube,” which the craft spotted earlier this month, the rover will take its time travelling to it.
According to VICE, however, there's a good reason why it may take about two to three lunar days, “or two to three months on Earth,” for the rover to reach the object supposedly located about 80 metres away.
As the media outlet explains, while Yutu-2 has a designed maximum speed of 200 metres per hour, in reality, the rover does not plough ahead at full speed.
Instead, engineers on Earth calculate every step the rover takes, using satellite images of the moon’s surface and images taken by the craft’s cameras to plot its course and guide it to avoid obstacles such as craters that dot the lunar landscape.
The craft also makes stops to conduct research, and it has to halt its operations when it becomes too cold during the lunar night.
2 December 2021, 08:51 GMT
The complicated nature of the rover’s navigation process thus results in the rover moving “very slowly but surely,” the media outlet notes, pointing out that by the end of September, after 1,000 days of operation, Yutu-2 covered a distance of 839 metres.