Today’s lunar exploration aside, Jade Rabbit is a popular character in Chinese mythology. Above, Sun
Wukong, a.k.a. Monkey King, fights the Moon Rabbit, a scene in the 16th century
Chinese novel Journey to the West, as depicted in Yoshitoshi’s
One Hundred Aspects of the Moon
Part II of the 3-Part CHINA series: CHINA MOON!
By Mary Foran
The Jade Rabbit 2 Rover made tracks on the dark side of the Moon in January onto the soft snow-like lunar surface about 12 hours after a Chinese spacecraft made the first-ever landing on the Moon’s far side.
“It’s a small step for the rover but one giant leap for the Chinese nation,” Wu Weiren, the chief designer of the Lunar Exploration Project told State Broadcaster CCTV. “This giant leap is a decisive move for our exploration of space and the conquering of the universe.”
The far side can’t be seen from Earth and is popularly called the “dark side” because it is relatively unknown, not because it lacks sunlight.
Three nations–the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and more recently China have sent spacecraft to the near side of the moon, but China has made the first-ever landing on the Far Side, using a communications satellite to connect with the rover.
The Jade Rabbit 2 has 6 wheels that all have power and can climb a 20-degree hill or an obstacle up to 20 centimeters high or about 8 inches. Its maximum speed is 200 meters (220 yards) per hour. “The surface is soft and similar to walking on the snow,” says Shen Zhenrong, the rover designer from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
The mission highlights China’s growing ambitions to rival the U.S. and Russia and Europe in space. More broadly, it is cementing its position as a regional and global power.
Recently announcing new trade talks with the U.S., President Trump has yet to set a date, time and place for the new negotiations over tariffs and overall relations with China.
Yutu-2, released by the Chinese National Space Administration, Fair use