Lost amid concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that has dominated headlines for weeks was news that the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has achieved a milestone in lunar exploration, one that could have great potential for prospecting and, eventually, mining on the Moon.
CNSA’s Lunar Exploration Program, also known as the Chang’e Project (after the Chinese Moon goddess of the same name), landed a robotic spacecraft on the far side of the Moon back in early January 2019. The mission’s lunar lander then deployed a solar-powered, robotic rover called Yutu-2 (Jade Rabbit 2) to begin exploring the surrounding Von Kármán crater, which is part of the Moon’s immense South Pole-Aitken basin.
Though few outside the space community know it, the rover has been methodically probing this ancient crater on the Moon’s far side for over a year. By March of 2020, Yutu-2 had travelled almost 400 metres across the lunar surface, making it the longest operational lunar rover in history.
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