Keeps on Roving!

Recent image of Chang'e 4 landr and Yutu rover (enlarged 2x)
Arrows indicate Yutu-2 (left) and Chang'e 4 lander (right). Rover tracks are faintly visible between the lander and Yutu-2. LROC image acquired 18 October 2020, M1357657468LR, enlarged 2x [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

The Chinese spacecraft Chang'e 4 set down on the Moon on 3 January 2019, 02:26 UTC at a site named "Statio Tianhe" after the Chinese name for the Milky Way. Since the landing, its rover, Yutu-2, has been exploring the site, and time-lapse images from LROC reveal the meandering path followed by Yutu-2 over a 22 month period.

Time lapse of Yutu-2 rover movement
Time-lapse imaging of Yutu-2 progress across the lunar landscape [NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University].

Chang'e 4 was the first mission to land on the Moon's far side, and the scientific goals of the mission included an investigation of the composition of Von Kármán crater, within the mighty South Pole–Aitken basin, an exploration of the subsurface using ground-penetrating radar, and a look out into our galaxy with low-frequency radio astronomy. The Moon's farside is uniquely suited to radio science investigations because the many competing radio signals from Earth are blocked by the Moon itself, providing a radio-quiet zone from which the faint astrometric signals can be observed.

Distance Traveled Cumulative Distance Time Frame
50 m 50 m Landing - Jan 30th, 2019
+64 m 114 m Jan 30th - Feb 28th
+53 m  167 m Feb 28th - Apr 10th
+6 m  173 m  Apr 10th - May 7th
+8 m  181 m  May 7th - June 3rd
+28 m  209 m  June 3rd - Jul 1st
+43 m 252 m Jul 1st - Oct 3rd
+58 m 310 m Oct 3rd - Dec 24th 
+11 m 321 m Dec 24th - Jan 20th
+35 m  356 m Jan 20th - Mar 1st, 2020
+27 m 383 m Mar 1st - Mar 29th
+15 m 398 m Mar 29th - Apr 25th
+8 m 406 m Apr 25th - Jun 18th
+15 m 421 m Jun 18th - Jul 15th
+19 m  440 m Jul 15th - Aug 12th
+21 m 461 m Aug 12th - Aug 25th
+19 m 480 m Aug 25th - Sep 21st
+22 m 502 m Sep 21st - Oct 18th

Since its landing and through 18 Oct 2020, the rover has traveled 502 meters estimated from the tracks. The rover may have back tracked in some cases so consider this value to be a lower limit. The straight-line distance from the lander to rover is now 385 meters. With more observations in hand, the LROC team refined the lander coordinates to be 45.4562°S, 177.5885 °E, with an uncertainty of 13 meters (95% confidence interval). 

Related Featured Images

Above the Landing Site

Chang'e 4 Rover Comes Into View

First Look: Chang'e 4

Chang'e 4 Lander Coordinates

On the Farside!

Von Kármán Crater: Awaiting A Visitor

Chang'e 3 Lander and Rover From Above

Published by Mark Robinson on 1 December 2020