The only nation active on the surface of the Moon, China, maintains successful operations of its Chang’e-3 Lander and Yutu Rover now in Lunar Night 6. Although Yutu has incurred mechanical issues, it continues to respond to ground control teams well past its 3-month given lifetime. Chang’e-3 Lander with Lunar Ultraviolet Telescope and Extreme Ultraviolet Camera, is also expected to perform past its December 14, one-year / thirteen-Lunar Day lifetime.
The spacecraft hibernate / awake cycle is determined by astronomical factors (estimated here by SPC / ILOA), mechanical functions and performance, and ground control teams at the Very Long Baseline Interferometry center in Shanghai and observation stations in Xinjiang, Kunming and Beijing.
Chang’e-4 (the twin of Chang’e-3) is being reconfigured due to the mission success; it may launch with different instruments to a new location or be combined with a future mission.
Preparing for Phase 3, the Chang’e-5 sample return mission test satellite is scheduled to launch this June to attempt a Lunar Orbit Transfer and return to Earth.
Chang’e 3 Lander and Yutu Rover Estimated Lunar Day / Night Cycle May 2014 – Jan 2015 can be found here.
Posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff