China’s first lunar rover has been declared dead on the surface of the Moon, reports in state media say.
The robot “could not be restored to full function on Monday as expected”, the China News Service said.
The Jade Rabbit, or Yutu in Chinese, suffered a serious mechanical problem in January and “has been unable to function since then”, the report said.
However, China’s Global Times newspaper later said the rover “showed signs of awakening on Wednesday”.
It added that data about the rover’s “current condition and repair progress is still being collected and analysed”, and an official update was expected “in the coming days”.
The Jade Rabbit’s deployment on 15 December was the first successful landing on the Moon since 1976.
It was expected to operate for about three months.
Social media debate
The malfunction in late January emerged before the rover entered its scheduled dormancy period, Xinhua news agency reported at the time.
The rover was due to become dormant for 14 days during the lunar night, when there would be no sunlight to power the rover’s solar panel, reports said.
If confirmed, the latest suggestion of the demise of the robot will be seen as a major blow to China’s ambitious space programme.
The announcement has also generated extensive discussion on Chinese social media.