China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover might not actually be dead

A photograph of the giant screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows photo of the Yutu, or ''Jade Rabbit'' lunar rover taken by the camera on the Chang'e 3 probe during the mutual-photograph process, in Beijing December 15, 2013 REUTERS/STRINGER

China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover may have life in it yet. Early on Thursday, the Jade Rabbit's microblog posted "Hi, anyone there?" 

The message came amidst speculation that the rover was permanently out of commission.

The rover landed on the moon in mid December. In January, it was expected to enter a two-week dormancy to wait out the moon's night period. Just before the planned dormancy, Chinese officials announced that the Jade Rabbit had experienced mechanical abnormalities.

"Masters are working round the clock. In spite of that, I know I might not be able to make it through this lunar night," the rover's Sina Weibo microblog account posted on Jan. 25. "If this journey is to be suspended ahead of schedule, I am not fearful. Whether I can be fixed or not, I believe I have left my masters much valuable information and experience." Sina Weibo is a microblogging site popular in China. The rover has more than 300,000 followers. 

 Chinese officials were unable to tell if the rover would start functioning again after the dormancy. The two-week period ended last week, but there was no word from the rover. 

Feb. 12, China's state-run media explained that the Jade Rabbit "could not be restored to full function on Monday as expected." But within hours, space program spokesman Pei Zhaoyu told the state-run New China News Agency that the rover had "come back to life" and was once again communicating with scientists. 

"Jade Rabbit has fully resurrected and is able to receive signals, but still suffers a mechanical control abnormality,"he told Xinhua News Agency.

Chinese authorities are continuing to work on the mechanical issues and have not offered any specifics. 

According to Science Now, several overseas-based space-related websites have reported that the main issue is with a solar panel. When the panel failed to fold and close, the rover's instrumentation was left exposed to extremely low temperatures. 

The overall mission was expected to last at least three months.

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