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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

Sunset on Chang'e 3's third lunar day: Yutu not dead yet, but not moving either

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

2014/02/24 12:38 CST

Topics: pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, mission status, the Moon, Chang'E program

There has been little news on the status of the Chang'e 3 mission over the course of its third lunar day. For the lander, we are in a no-news-is-good-news phase. According to a brief news story posted in Chinese last week, the lander's astronomical observations continue as normal.

For Yutu, the good news is that the rover survived the second lunar night with functioning scientific instruments. But the bad news is that the rover does not currently appear capable of roving, according to a Xinhua state news agency report in English: "China's lunar rover Yutu also entered the dormancy on Feb. 22, with the mechanical control issues that might cripple the vehicle still unresolved. According to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), Yutu only carried out fixed point observations during its third lunar day, equivalent to about two weeks on Earth. Yutu's radar, panorama camera and infrared imaging equipment are functioning normally, the control issues that have troubled the rover since January persist."

Along with that update, they released two photos of the lander. I have here the highest-quality versions of those photos that are available on the Web, sent to me by an anonymous source who does not wish to be identified but who assures me that the images have been approved for release. They show the lander as seen from the rover, taken during the third day of surface operations. Their perspective on the lander shows that during the second day, Yutu continued moving clockwise around the lander.

Here's the left-eye image:

Yutu image of the Chang'e 3 lander from the mission's third solar day

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu image of the Chang'e 3 lander from the mission's third solar day
The Yutu rover took this photo of the Chang'e 3 lander from a position southwest of the lander on the mission's third solar day, mid-February 2014. The photo is from the left eye of its stereo color camera.

And the right-eye image:

Yutu image of Chang'e 3 lander, lunar day 3 (right eye)

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Yutu image of Chang'e 3 lander, lunar day 3 (right eye)

And here's a version of the pair that I've processed into stereo. The composition is not great for stereo imaging (the camera was tilted and there's a lot of parallax in the spacecraft, which is cut off at the right edge, making it pretty much impossible to pick a comfortable spot to focus the image), but it's a stereo pair of images from a spacecraft that's not even supposed to still be functioning on the surface of another world, so I'm not complaining.

3D Yutu image of the Chang'e 3 lander from the mission's third solar day

Chinese Academy of Sciences / Emily Lakdawalla

3D Yutu image of the Chang'e 3 lander from the mission's third solar day
The Yutu rover took a stereo pair of images of the Chang'e 3 lander from a position southwest of the lander on the mission's third solar day, mid-February 2014.

Crossed-eye stereo

Parallel-eye stereo

Flicker gif

Here is Phil Stooke's attempt at determining the rover's current position, based in part on that stereo pair of photos. Hopefully we'll see a publicly released Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photo some time soon that will corroborate this position estimate. LROC had plans to snap photos on January 22, February 19, and March 19.

Yutu route map to 2014-2-24 (estimated)

NASA / GSFC / ASU / Chinese Academy of Sciences / Phil Stooke

Yutu route map to 2014-2-24 (estimated)


 

Or read more blog entries about: pretty pictures, pics of spacecraft in space, mission status, the Moon, Chang'E program

Comments:

NFH: 02/24/2014 02:13 CST

Great to hear that Yutu is still hanging in there! Maybe just... Perchance do you have the red/blue reversed on your 3D picture? I had to reverse my glasses ("this side toward face" toward the screen) to make it work. Cheers...

Matt: 02/24/2014 02:30 CST

I think your right and left may be reversed on your stereo image. I have to flip my red/blue glasses over to get the image to look right.

dilo: 02/25/2014 03:23 CST

Emily, I suspect you inverted colors in the anaglyph...

Emily Lakdawalla: 02/25/2014 07:19 CST

Woops -- you are right! I have fixed the anaglyph.

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