How China’s Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu-2 rover have been working on the moon for four years

China’s Lunar Mission: Indian Space Research Organization i.e. ISRO is trying to reactivate Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover after moonrise. Both were put into sleep mode on the morning of 4 September 2023, a few days after their successful landing on the Moon’s south polar region. Also all its payloads were disabled. During this period only its receivers were operational. According to ISRO, rebooting of the modules will be attempted as both batteries are fully charged in sunlight. ISRO expects that once the lander and rover are activated again, they will continue to provide information about the Moon for the next 15 days.

India is undoubtedly the first country on Earth to land on the South Pole of the Moon. But China’s lunar mission has also been successful before. China’s Chang’e-4 lander and Yutu-2 have been operating on the lunar surface for the past four years. At the same time, ISRO is trying to reactivate Pragyan rover and Vikram lander. Do you know how China’s rovers and landers can stay active on the lunar surface for so long? What technology are both built to withstand the extreme cold of the moon?

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China’s Yutu-2 and Chang’e-4 are powered solely by solar energy
Chinese scientists have created a picture of the layers beneath the far surface of the moon using data from the Yutu-2 rover. The Chang’e-4 lander and rover landed on the far side of the moon on January 2, 2019. China’s lunar mission has become the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the far side of the moon that does not face Earth. We tell you that like India’s Rover Pragyan, China’s UTU-2 is also powered by solar energy. The Yutu-2 rover is exploring the surface of the 186 km wide Von Kármán Crater. Probing below the surface with a two-channel ground penetrating radar. It gives glimpses of geological history.

What did Yutu-2 discover on the surface of the moon?
Yutu-2 used channel scanning at a depth of 130 feet to examine different layers of rock debris and soil. According to the paper published Aug. 7 in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, the low-frequency channel discovered several layers 1,000 feet below the surface, indicating a series of basalt eruptions that occurred billions of years ago. The research was led by Jianqing Feng of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona. Combining new and old research, he created a picture of the moon’s upper layers. The study found evidence of five main layers, at least three of which are primarily composed of basalt.

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How much distance did UTU-2 cover during the mission?
The researchers found that the layers at shallow depths are not as thick as those at depth. This suggests that the flow has decreased over time due to volcanic activity, as the Moon has lost the internal thermal energy that drives volcanism. The data used for the study was collected between January 2019 and January 2022. By this time, the Yutu-2 rover had traversed a distance of about 3,280 feet on the lunar surface. China does not usually release information about its lunar missions. However, when the fourth anniversary of the landing of the rover and lander was celebrated in January 2023, a lot of information was revealed. This shows that they are both still active on the moon.

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China’s rover-lander was not damaged by the winter, why?
Lunar days and nights are equal to 14 Earth days. The moon’s temperature reaches over 100 degrees Celsius during the day. At the same time, temperatures drop below minus 120 degrees at night. Due to this, the battery of any machine can be completely destroyed. In such a situation, the question has arisen whether the extreme cold has any effect on China’s rover U2-2? In fact, as night falls on the moon, it goes into sleep mode. During this time, the radioisotope heater present inside it protects the unit from being damaged by extreme cold. It uses plutonium 238. Then when it’s daytime on the moon, its batteries are charged with solar energy. By this it becomes active again and starts its work.

What payload went with Chang’e-4?
If we talk about the payload of Chang’e-4, then it has a landing camera installed under the spacecraft, which began to create a video stream at an altitude of 12 km from the lunar surface. The terrain camera is mounted on the top of the lander and is capable of rotating 360 degrees. It is being used to take high-definition images of the lunar surface and the rover. Low-frequency spectrometers are intended to study solar radio bursts and study the lunar ionosphere at frequencies from 0.1 to 40 MHz.

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What is the biosphere cylinder that comes with it?
The lander carries a neutron dosimeter built by Germany’s Kiel University, which is collecting radiation dosimetry data for future human exploration of the Moon. It is also helping in solar wind research. The Lunar Micro Ecosystem is a 3 kg sealed biosphere cylinder measuring 18 cm long and 16 cm in diameter, containing seeds and insect eggs to test whether plants and insects can grow together on the Moon. These tests included cotton seed, potato, rapeseed, Arabidopsis thaliana, yeast and fruit fly eggs. China reported on January 15, 2019 that cotton seeds, rapeseed and potato seeds have germinated. However, on January 16, it was reported that the experiment ended with the onset of lunar night.

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What technology has been used in UTU-2?
In the Yutu-2 rover, the panoramic camera is installed on the rover’s masthead and can rotate 360 ​​degrees. Its spectral range is from 420 nm to 700 nm. This telescope collects 3D images through stereovision. The lunar penetrating radar can probe to a depth of about 30 m with a vertical resolution of 30 cm. At the same time, it can search at a depth of more than 100 meters with a vertical resolution of 10 meters. Visible and near-infrared imaging spectrometers have been used for imaging spectroscopy. It detects lunar surface elements and atmospheric trace gases.

What happened to Yutu-2 when it was night on the moon?
A few days after landing, Yutu-2 went into hibernation on its first lunar night. It resumed operations on 29 January 2019 with nominal operation of all equipment. The rover traveled 120 meters on its first full lunar day. It closes for its second lunar night on 11 February 2019. China says Chang’e-4 identified mantle rocks at the surface, which is its primary objective. In January 2020, China released a large amount of data and high-resolution images from the mission’s lander and rover. In February 2020, Chinese astronomers reported a high-resolution image of a lunar emission sequence for the first time. In addition, its internal structure was also analyzed.

Sakina Kaukawala

Be it current world affairs or hearsay regarding your favorite content creator with a plethora of write-ups under her belt, Sakina provides you with the trendiest of news in record time so you never miss out on the spiciest of gossips

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