Moon Rover Jade Rabbit Is Back From the Dead

China's first moon rover "Yutu" - or Jade Rabbit - is on the lunar surface in the area known as Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows), Dec. 15, 2013. Xinhua/AP Photo

"It is alive," a delighted Chinese space official proclaimed today.

He was referring to the Jade Rabbit moon rover which officials said had died about a month after landing on the moon.

Jade Rabbit, named after a lunar goddess's pet in traditional Chinese mythology, landed on the moon on Dec. 15 on a mission to do geological surveys and collect natural resources. It was expected to operate for about three months, but it suffered a serious mechanical problem late in January when entering its second 14-day lunar night, a period that exposes the surface to extreme cold.

Earlier reports in Chinese media had suggested that the Jade Rabbit was dead and it was "mourned" by Chinese social media users.

But Xinhua state news agency reported today that the Rabbit was awake and able to pick up signals again, although it still has a mechanical malfunction.

"At first we were worried the rover could not withstand the low temperatures on the moon, because it entered its dormant state while in an abnormal state. But it is alive," Xinhua quoted Pei Zhaoyu, a spokesman for the lunar probe program

"It is still alive, so there is a chance it could be saved," Pei added.

The Jade Rabbit's successful landing on the moon was the third soft-landing in history after Soviet Union and the United States accomplished that feat four decades ago.

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