May has been a big month for China when it comes to space exploration. The country recently announced that it had landed successfully on the surface of Mars. China has also announced that its Yutu-2 rover is gearing up to wake up and continue exploring the far side of the moon. Yutu-2 has been on the far side of the moon since January 2019 and has completed 29 lunar days of activity as of April 23, 2021.
China put the lander in a dormant state on April 19, just ahead of sunset. Yutu-2 is powered by solar energy, and the dormant state was to help protect the rover from temperatures as low as -290 degrees Fahrenheit. The rover and lander will wake up from their hibernation this month after the sun rises over the rover and lander at their landing site in Von Kármán crater.
Yutu-2 has traveled northwest from its landing point and has traversed 2325 feet since landing, collecting data along the way. The rover has panoramic cameras, lunar penetrating radar, and a visible and near-infrared imaging spectrometer. The rover has six wheels and weighs 310 pounds, and has already discovered several distinct layers of rock under the lunar surface.
Scientists believe the layers of rock are created by volcanism and asteroid strikes. The rover has also observed material delivered from nearby craters, such as the Finsen crater. China believes its rover could be critical in determining the surface evolution history on the moon and tracing the source of surface materials discovered by the rover.
Chinese scientists chose the landing location for Yutu-2 because they believe the event that created the basin could’ve excavated rock from below the Moon’s crust, and that material could help reveal some mysteries about the moon.