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Chinese lunar rover not dead yet

| Monday, July 21, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
In this image taken by the on-board camera of the lunar probe Chang'e-3 and made off the screen of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, China's first moon rover Yutu - or Jade Rabbit - is on the lunar surface in the area known as Sinus Iridum (Bay of Rainbows) on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. Yutu touched down on the moon and left deep traces on its loose soil, state media reported Sunday, several hours after the country successfully carried out the world's first soft landing of a space probe on the moon in nearly four decades. (AP Photo / Xinhua) NO SALES

China's lunar rover Jade Rabbit is still alive and kicking.

The plucky rover, which famously sent out a dying message in January, is severely handicapped but is still functioning, Chinese authorities said on Monday.

Sent to the moon by China to study its surface and mineral resources, Jade Rabbit experienced unexpected malfunctions six weeks into its operation.

Before entering the second moon night in late January, Jade Rabbit sent out a mournful last message that it had run into some problem and that “I know I might not survive this moon night.” The rover's missives caught worldwide attention and were made more famous by a dramatic rendition of its plight by actor Patrick Stewart in a tin foil dress on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

Since then, it has been unable to move farther and entered into a deep “coma” that lasted for about 50 days before waking up in mid-March. Because the rover is solar powered, it entered a hibernation mode during the long period of lunar night when there was no sunlight.

The 309-pound, six-wheeled rover was designed with a life expectancy of three months.

Chinese experts said the rabbit appears to have tripped over some rocks — the whole surface of the moon is like a quarry, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Still, Chinese authorities praised Jade Rabbit for being “much stronger than expected.”

“Yutu has ‘over-served' its time on the moon and sent lots of data back to Earth. We hope it can continue to work miracles,” Zhang Yuhua, deputy chief designer of the lunar probe system, told Xinhua.

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