Little lost Chinese rover: “Good night, planet Earth. Good night, humanity.”

The Independent covers the poignant final hours of China’s Jade Rabbit lunar rover as the rolling robot bids a sad farewell to the folks back home:

…Jade Rabbit – named after a mythological rabbit that lives on the Moon – has managed to write its own, sentimental farewell through China’s state-run news agency Xinhua:

“Although I should’ve gone to bed this morning, my masters discovered something abnormal with my mechanical control system,” lamented the rover in a diary piece that was also tweeted by a fan-run Webio account (a Twitter clone).

“My masters are staying up all night working for a solution. I heard their eyes are looking more like my red rabbit eyes. Nevertheless, I’m aware that I might not survive this lunar night.”

The lunar night in question is the 14-day period in which the Moon is in shadow. During this time temperatures plunge to -170 degrees Celsius (-274 degrees Fahrenheit) and Jade Rabbit – which is powered by solar panels – must enter into a hibernation state to preserve its core systems.

For unknown reasons, this transition has not been possible and it’s likely that once the lunar night has passed the six-wheeled rover will not recover.

It was the first soft landing on the Moon in 40 years and, as Jade Rabbit itself reminded readers:

“About half of the past 130 explorations ended in success; the rest ended in failure. This is space exploration; the danger comes with its beauty. I am but a tiny dot in the vast picture of mankind’s adventure in space.”