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`Goodnight, humans`: China`s Jade Rabbit moon rover posting

AFP | Last Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 - 13:57

Beijing: Chinese Internet users flooded the country`s social media networks on Monday with condolences for the troubled Jade Rabbit moon rover, which experienced a "mechanical control abnormality" over the weekend.

State-run media reported on Saturday that the country`s first moon rover had run into trouble due to "the complicated lunar surface environment". By Monday afternoon, "Jade Rabbit lunar rover" had shot to the top of the most-searched terms list on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter.

"Little bunny, we`re praying for you!" one Web user wrote.
"In space exploration, there`s great beauty, but there`s also great difficulty," another user wrote. "I hope one day you will be resurrected."

The Jade Rabbit, or Yutu in Chinese, was deployed on the moon`s surface on December 15, several hours after the Chang`e-3 probe landed.

The landing -- the third such soft-landing in history, and the first of its kind since the Soviet Union`s mission nearly four decades ago -- has been a huge source of pride in China, where millions across the country have been charting the rover`s accomplishments.
The official Xinhua news agency, which broke the news of the Jade Rabbit`s troubles, published a "first-person account" from the rover that appeared geared towards softening the blow.

The account appears to have been based on a posting by weibo user "Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover", an unverified account which Xinhua said is "believed to belong to space enthusiasts who have been following Yutu`s journey to the moon".

"The bad news is, I was supposed to go to sleep this morning, but before I went to sleep, my masters found some mechanical control abnormalities," the first-person posting reads.

"Some parts of my body won`t listen to their commands. Now my masters are hard at work thinking of ways to fix me... Even so, I know that it`s possible I won`t be able to endure this night."

Xinhua noted that other countries have seen lunar missions fail in the past.

"I originally thought I could hop around up here for three months," the first-person posting continues.

"But if this trip is to end prematurely, I`m not afraid. Whether or not they can fix me, I know that my breakdown can provide my masters with a lot of valuable information and experience."

It concludes: "The sun here has fallen, and the temperature is dropping fast. I`ve said a lot today, but I still feel it`s not enough.

"I`ll tell everyone a little secret. I`m actually not that sad. I`m just in my own adventure story, and like any protagonist, I encountered a bit of a problem. Goodnight, Earth. Goodnight, humans."

More than 6,000 Internet users have written messages in response, many of them expressing hope that the rover has not seen its last.

"We`ll always remember that you`re watching us on the moon," wrote one Web user. "One day, we`ll bring you home."

First Published: Monday, January 27, 2014 - 13:57

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