The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program is designed to be conducted in four phases of incremental technological advancement. The program aims to facilitate a crewed lunar landing in the 2030s and possibly build an outpost near the south pole. The Yutu-2 lunar rover has driven 400 meters on the Moon’s far side.
The first is merely reaching lunar orbit, a task completed by Chang’e 1 in 2007 and Chang’e 2 in 2010. The second is landing and roving on the Moon, as Chang’e 3 did in 2013, and Chang’e 4 did in 2019. The third is collecting lunar samples from the near-side and sending them to Earth, a task for the future Chang’e 5 and Chang’e 6 missions. The fourth phase consists of the development of a robotic research station near the Moon’s south pole. The missions are named after Chang’e, the Chinese Moon goddess.
Yutu-2 is a robotic lunar rover that formed part of the Chinese Chang’e 4 mission to the Moon. It was launched on 7 December 2018. It entered lunar orbit on 12 December 2018, before landing on the Moon’s far side on 3 January 2019. It landed on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin.
More about Chang’e-4’s Yutu-2 lunar rover
Chang’e-4 mission includes conducting low-frequency radio astronomical observations, surveying the terrain and landforms, detecting the mineral composition and shallow lunar surface structure, and measuring the neutron radiation and neutral atoms.
Yutu-2 rover is equipped with a radioisotope heater unit to heat its subsystems during the long lunar nights, while solar panels generate electrical power. Six wheels propel it. The rover’s nominal operating time is three months. Still, after the experience with Yutu rover in 2013, the rover design was improved, and Chinese engineers are hopeful it will operate for a few years.
So far, Yutu-2 traveled a lot on the lunar surface. Almost 400.00 meters. It is the longest journey made on the Moon. It can send radio signals 40 meters deep into the surface of the Moon. The lunar subsurface seems to be made by porous granular materials. Yutu-2 will help writing the lunar history of the celestial collision, volcanic activities, and the geological evolution on the Moon.