This is Yutu, the lunar rover portion of China’s Chang’e 3 spacecraft who was tasked with exploring around on the moon and performing experiments that can only be carried out there. I don’t know what those are either but that’s not the point. The point, and grab your box of tissues for this one, this poor little rover is dying.
Yutu is powered by solar panels, which is great, the problem is how the moon only gets sun in two-week intervals. Yes, you just learned something, a lunar day lasts two weeks. When it’s night on the moon Yutu hibernates to save energy so it can continue its work when the sun comes back up. The problem is the hibernation system failed and now Yutu is freezing to death. I’m not sure whether or not this is a permanent problem, maybe it’ll thaw out come morning. We’ll just have to wait and see.
To make the whole thing that much sadder read Yutu’s dying message:
“My masters are staying up all night working for a solution. I heard their eyes are looking more like my red rabbit eyes. Nevertheless, I’m aware that I might not survive this lunar night. [Chang’e] doesn’t know about my problems yet. If I can’t be fixed, everyone please comfort her. Before departure, I studied the history of mankind’s lunar probes. About half of the past 130 explorations ended in success; the rest ended in failure. This is space exploration: the danger comes with its beauty. I am but a tiny dot in the vast picture of mankind’s adventure in space. The sun has fallen and the temperature is dropping so quickly… to tell you all a secret, I don’t feel that sad. I was just in my own adventure story — and like every hero, I encountered a small problem. Goodnight, Earth. Goodnight, humanity.”
Hit the jump for additional shots.