|Mission type||lunar rover|
|Mission duration||3 months (planned) |
Current: 4 years, 5 months, 27 days
|Launch mass||Rover: 140 kg|
|Landing mass||140 kg|
|Dimensions||1.5 × 1.0 × 1.0 m|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||7 December 2018, 18:23 UTC|
|Rocket||Long March 3B|
|Launch site||Xichang Satellite Launch Center|
|Landing date||3 January 2019, 02:26 UTC|
|Landing site||Von Kármán crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin|
|Distance driven||1.455 km (0.904 mi)|
as of 3 January 2023[update]
Yutu-2 is the robotic lunar rover component of CNSA's Chang'e 4 mission to the Moon, launched on 7 December 2018 18:23 UTC, it entered lunar orbit on 12 December 2018 before making the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon on 3 January 2019. Yutu-2 is currently operational as the longest-lived lunar rover and the first lunar rover traversing the far side of the Moon.
By January 2022, Yutu-2 had travelled a distance of more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) along the Moon's surface.
The total landing mass is 1,200 kg (2,600 lb). Both the stationary lander and Yutu-2 rover are equipped with a radioisotope heater unit (RHU) in order to heat their subsystems during the long lunar nights, while electrical power is generated by solar panels.
After landing, the lander extended a ramp to deploy the Yutu-2 rover (literally: "Jade Rabbit") to the lunar surface. The rover measures 1.5 × 1.0 × 1.0 m (4.9 × 3.3 × 3.3 ft) and has a mass of 140 kg (310 lb). Yutu-2 rover was manufactured in Dongguan, Guangdong province; it is solar-powered, RHU-heated, and it is propelled by six wheels. The rover's nominal operating time is three months, but after the experience with Yutu rover in 2013, the rover design was improved and Chinese engineers are hopeful it will operate for "a few years."
The landing craft touched down at 02:26 UTC on 3 January 2019, becoming the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the Moon. Yutu-2 rover was deployed about 12 hours after the landing.
According to Wu Yanhua, the deputy director of the project, the cost of the entire mission was "close to building one kilometer of subway". The cost-per-kilometer of subway in China varies from 500 million yuan (about 72.6 million U.S. dollars) to 1.2 billion yuan (about 172.4 million U.S. dollars), depending on the difficulty of construction.
The landing site is within a crater called Von Kármán (180 km or 110 mi diameter) in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the Moon that was still unexplored by landers. The site has symbolic as well as scientific value: Theodore von Kármán was the PhD advisor of Qian Xuesen, the founder of the Chinese space program.
A few days after landing, Yutu-2 went into hibernation for its first lunar night and it resumed activities on 29 January 2019, with all instruments operating nominally. During its first full lunar day, the rover travelled 120 m (390 ft), and on 11 February 2019 it powered down for its second lunar night. In May 2019, it was reported that Chang'e 4 has identified what appear to be mantle rocks on the surface, its primary objective.
In December 2019, Yutu 2 broke the lunar longevity record, previously held by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 1 rover, which operated on the lunar surface for eleven lunar days (321 Earth days) and traversed a total distance of 10.54 km (6.55 mi).
In February 2020, Chinese astronomers reported, for the first time, a high-resolution image of a lunar ejecta sequence, and, as well, direct analysis of its internal architecture. These were based on observations made by the Lunar Penetrating Radar (LPR) on board the Yutu-2 rover while studying the far side of the Moon.
In December 2021, the rover pictured what appeared to be a particularly prominent boulder, dubbed the "Mystery Hut" (神秘小屋), or "Moon Cube", which it was intended to explore in the lunar days (earth months) ahead. On 7 January 2022, news reported that the rover reached the destination area after traveling for a month, and found that the "Mystery Hut" was an "irregularly shaped rock"; to some, the rock looks a bit like a rabbit, along with a nearby much smaller rock that looks like a carrot, which may be even more fitting overall since the rover's name Yutu means "Jade Rabbit".