China's Yutu 2 rover is still operating after four years on the moon and has returned new images from the lunar far side.
Yutu 2 is part of the historic Chang'e 4 mission, which made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon in January 2019. The rover woke up this past Jan. 15 to start its 51st lunar day, according to an update from the Chinese lunar exploration project's (CLEP) social media account. (One lunar day lasts about 29.5 Earth days.)
There have been few updates on Yutu 2 — whose name means "Jade Rabbit 2" — over the past year, but the rover is suddenly a star once more as China celebrates the start of the Year of the Rabbit.
The rover has traveled a total of 4,774 feet (1,455 meters) across Von Kármán crater in its four years of exploration and is now 865 feet (2,837 m) northwest of the Chang'e 4 lander from which it rolled down onto the moon.
New images taken on Jan. 18 and released by CLEP show rocks and impact craters, winding tracks made by Yutu 2 in the lunar regolith and the distant wall of the 115-mile-wide (186 kilometers) Von Kármán Crater.
The six-wheeled, 310-pound (140 kilograms) Yutu 2 rover has made a number of scientifically valuable and odd discoveries on its travels, including detecting a number of distinct layers of rock under the lunar surface and generating excitement over a "mystery hut" that turned out to be something much more mundane.
Meanwhile, China has yet to provide an update on its Mars rover, Zhurong, which has so far remained silent despite being expected to resume activities on the Red Planet in December 2022. Zhurong entered a planned dormant state in May 2022 to ride out the harsh winter in Mars' northern hemisphere.