BEIJING, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- China's Jade Rabbit lunar rover experienced a "mechanical control abnormality" a few days before its scheduled dormancy period, according to state media reports.
The rover, which was expected to run for three months, was preparing to power down for 14 days during the lunar night, when there would be no sunlight to power the rover's solar panels. According to Xinhua news agency, the rover was experiencing problems due to the "complicated lunar surface environment."
The lunar mission, the first soft landing on the moon since 1976, has been snag-free so far. The Beijing Aerospace Control Center says the mission was running smoothly and the rover's mechanical arm had been used successfully to explore the lunar surface. But these new developments have scientists scrambling to organize repairs, though no details were provided.
The incident generated a wave of support from the Chinese, especially on social media. On Sina Weibo, China's most popular micro-blogging site, users were using the hashtag ""#hang in there Jade Rabbit" with their posts.
People expressing concern on social media also "hailed the authority's openness to the accident," said the Xinhua news agency.
[Xinhua News Agency] [BBC]