China’s lunar rover functioning day after being declared dead
The Guardian: A day after it was declared dead, China’s Jade Rabbit lunar rover communicated with the nation’s space program, state media reported Thursday.
After a night of extreme cold on the moon, China’s space program reported its first moon rover had lost function. Citing a combination of mechanical issues in addition to the low temperatures, the program reported the rover dead. However, on Thursday, the program said that “it came back to life.”
It is unclear how much function returned to the rover, but the program said it now believes it is possible to save it.
Photo: China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover after it landed on the lunar surface. (AP/Xinhua)
The Yutu rover suffered a mysterious “abnormality” over the weekend. And the robot’s microblogged death note may make you cry.
“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,” concluded the rover. “Goodnight, humanity.”
This mysterious abnormality resulted in the rover being unable to enter sleep mode, which would turn on its internal heaters and protect it from the -170 C temperatures of the lunar night. You just read the parting words of a robot freezing to death.
China’s first lunar rover separates from Chang’e-3 moon lander early Dec. 15, 2013. Screenshot taken from the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing. Credit: Xinhua/post processing by Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken Kremer (via Photo and Video Gallery)
Printing the Moon - 3D printing (or additive manufacturing) holds amazing promise in reducing what it takes to create … anything. That is especially true in environments without established industrial infrastructure. The ability to transport a minimal self-contained set of tools to a remote location, combine it with a power source, and then transform local raw material into useable technology, may be the most powerful application of 3D printing ever envisioned. And few other locations are as remote as the surface of another celestial body like our planet’s moon.
Industrial partners including renowned architects Foster + Partners have joined with ESA to test the feasibility of 3D printing using lunar soil. Foster + Partners devised a weight-bearing ‘catenary’ dome design with a cellular structured wall to shield against micrometeoroids and space radiation, incorporating a pressurised inflatable to shelter astronauts. A hollow closed-cell structure – reminiscent of bird bones – provides a good combination of strength and weight.
The base’s design was guided in turn by the properties of 3D-printed lunar soil, with a 1.5 tonne building block produced as a demonstration. The UK’s Monolite supplied the D-Shape printer, with a mobile printing array of nozzles on a 6 meter frame to spray a binding solution onto a sand-like building material. “First, we needed to mix the simulated lunar material with magnesium oxide. This turns it into ‘paper’ we can print with,” explained Monolite founder Enrico Dini. “Then for our structural ‘ink’ we apply a binding salt which converts material to a stone-like solid.