The Chinese National Space Administration has revealed the closest images of the cubic formation detected on the Moon by the Yutu 2 rover in December and dubbed a “mystery house” by its Our Space outreach program.
Yutu 2 took the first images of the object last month as part of a new expedition to the surface of the far side of the Moon. The photographs exhibited an unusual shape, but the low resolution due to the distance made it difficult to distinguish their true nature.
After the publication of the photos, Internet users from different latitudes speculated – many in an ironic way – about the object. They mentioned anything from a “palace on the Moon” to an “alien base.” As expected, the experts showed their skepticism about these theories and chose to attribute a natural origin.
For this reason, the team that operates the astromobile from Earth, which is part of the Chang’e 4 lunar exploration mission, focused on directing it towards the object, located at that time – early December – at 80 meters, at the side of an impact crater.
Initial calculations determined that the tour would take at least two months. However, scientists devised a route in which the rover will move faster, explains Our Space in its recent publication.
Yutu 2 passed between a series of impact craters and the rugged lunar relief. After 60 meters of travel, night came and the rover was inactive for several days. Finally, he ‘woke up’ on December 27 and walked in a straight line to the ‘mysterious cabin’ up to 10 meters from it to start capturing images.
The panoramic photograph shows the object right on the edge of the crater. The enlarged image reveals that it is a solitary rock whose shape is very different from that of a cube or any other structure mentioned in public speculation.
Still, the scientists observed a certain similarity in the rock to a rabbit on its side.
Therefore, they decided to name it after the rover Yutu (‘jade rabbit’ in Spanish). This name also refers to the famous Chinese myth about one of these rodents that lived on the Moon and prepared various elixirs.
Meanwhile, the publication of Our Space details that this Thursday the rover exceeded the kilometer of travel on the lunar surface. Since its landing on January 3, 2019 until now, has explored a total of 1,003.9 meters.
Right now, Yutu 2 is in hibernation due to the lunar night, which deprives the space mobile of the sunlight necessary for its operation.
For now, China is the only country that has a rover on our natural satellite. This could change shortly, as NASA plans to send its first lunar rover as part of its Artemis program.