The Chinese lunar rover Yutu 2 detected something intriguing on the far side of the Moon in November as it passed through the Von Kármán crater. Immediately, Internet users were overturned with theories that the object called “mysterious cabin” or “strange cube” could be of alien origin.
However, the “lunar cube” is no longer a mystery. And to the disappointment of many it turned out to be something quite common: a rock. The worst of it is that it is not even cube-shaped, it is simply a bulging rock located on the rim of a crater; a fun conclusion to the lunar conundrum that wowed many in December.
The discovery occurred for the first time in November, during the 36th lunar day of the Yutu 2 rover mission. The discovery was then reported by Our Space, a blog in Chinese associated with the National Space Administration of China (CNSA). In the first image the rock rover looked much larger and more mysterious.
The CNSA estimated that the object was about 80 meters away and prepared to steer the rover towards it. According to the blog, it would take two to three months to get to the bucket. The Chinese space agency then announced that it would travel towards the object at a superfast lunar speed of 200 meters per hour to get some answers.
However, after zooming in and gaining some perspective, the rover was able to reveal the true nature of the object. The curled shape of the rock has now earned it the nickname “jade rabbit” because it looks like a crouching rabbit with a couple of carrots in front of it. Behind the rock are delicate round pieces that look like rabbit droppings, adding to the fun. And it was no wonder: the rover’s name, Yutu, also means “Jade Rabbit”.
Yutu-2 reached the Moon in January 2019, when the Chang’e-4 lander touched the lunar surface. It was the first mission to land on the far side of the Moon (which is not always dark).
Yutu-2, which has survived well beyond its initial three-month mission, is powered by solar power, periodically hibernating until the sun rises again. So it took him a while to get closer to the “mystery cabin” to get a better look at it.
Edited by Felipe Espinosa Wang.