What Chinese Lunar Mission Chang'e 4 Spotted in December Turned Out to Be

When the object’s image was first released in December, CNSA estimated it was about 80 metres away from the rover.

What Chinese Lunar Mission Chang'e 4 Spotted in December Turned Out to Be

The rover's mission was initially intended to last only three months

Highlights
  • Yutu-2 is part of the Chinese Chang'e 4 lunar mission
  • It reached the Moon in January 2019
  • It became the first mission to land on the far side of the moon

China's Yutu-2 rover spotted a strange, cube-shaped object on the Moon's far side in the Von Karman crater and released the images in December. It quickly became the subject of intense speculation. Even the China National Space Administration (CNSA) called it a “mysterious hut” and speculated that it could be an alien house or spacecraft. After a month, the mystery appears to have been resolved. A science website affiliated with CNSA has now released a close-up image of the object. And, it turns out that the “Moon cube” is a simple rock lying on the rim of a crate.

Early December, when the object's image was first released, CNSA estimated it was about 80 metres away from the rover. The agency decided to rove towards the object and said it was likely to take two or three months to reach the cube. However, Our Space, the science website, said the rover is now close enough to confirm that the object is just a rock.

The blog said the sharp-lined geometric appearance on the horizon was a simple trick of perspective, light, and shadow, according to a report in Science Alert. It is shaped like a rabbit, with smaller rocks in front of it. The solar-powered rover's name, Yutu, means "Jade Rabbit".

Yutu-2 is part of the Chinese Chang'e 4 lunar mission. It reached the Moon in January 2019, becoming the first mission to land on the far side. When CNSA released the images of the strange object in December, several people had gotten excited about it. But it turned out to be only a rock.

The rover's mission was initially intended to last only three months. However, it has been operating for three years, which gives it ample time to look for “mysterious objects” on the lunar surface.

China is ramping up its space activities in a bid to catch up with the US and Russia. Besides a space station, it is also planning to build a base on the Moon.


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Further reading: Yutu 2, Chang'e 4, China, moon
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