【英语中国】"玉兔"命运牵动中国人心 China’s Jade Rabbit springs back to life

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-2-15 08:54

小艾摘要: China’s Jade Rabbit Moon rover appeared to die in its sleep on Wednesday night only to wake again at dawn, as state media struggled to communicate the latest twist in the high-profile exploration pro ...
China’s Jade Rabbit springs back to life
China’s Jade Rabbit Moon rover appeared to die in its sleep on Wednesday night only to wake again at dawn, as state media struggled to communicate the latest twist in the high-profile exploration project.

Just hours after the China News Service reported that the Jade Rabbit’s functions “could not be fully restored”, the official Xinhua news agency said that the robot was “awake” and communicating. “The rover stands a chance of being saved as it is still alive,” a spokesman for the project told Xinhua.

The Jade Rabbit later issued its first Weibo post in almost two weeks, asking “Hi, is anybody out there?”

A spokesman for China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence could not be reached for comment on the fate of a programme that the Beijing leadership has invested some of its own credibility in.

The country’s state-controlled media had initially prepared the public, which has been following the Jade Rabbit’s adventures since it landed in December with genuine enthusiasm, for the rover’s possible demise at the end of January by giving it its own voice in an unusual report.

On January 27, a mechanical fault appeared to prevent the Jade Rabbit from fully covering up its monitoring and communications equipment on the eve of a 14-day “lunar night”, when the solar-powered rover had to hibernate because the moon is in the earth’s shadow.

“Although I should have gone to bed this morning, my masters discovered something abnormal with my mechanical control system,” Xinhua quoted the rover as saying halfway through its three-month mission. “I might not survive this lunar night.” The Jade Rabbit’s diary report came on the same weekend that NASA’s Opportunity rover entered its 11th year of operations on Mars.

When the fortnight-long lunar day dawned earlier this week, there was only radio silence from Xinhua and other state media outlets – until the brief and contradictory reports that came out overnight on Wednesday and Jade Rabbit’s subsequent Weibo post.

“It is hard to say whether the Jade Rabbit is dead or alive because we don’t know exactly what the glitch is,” said Jiao Weixin, professor at Peking University’s School of Earth and Space Science. “In the old days there wouldn’t have been any report until they were sure it was absolutely dead.”

The rover was launched with full media fanfare on December 1 and dominated the domestic news agenda. Blanket coverage of its two-week journey to the moon was used to downplay the regional crisis sparked just a few days earlier by China’s declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone over the East China Sea.

The Jade Rabbit’s successful lunar landing on December 14 was hailed as a national triumph, and President Xi Jinping congratulated the project’s scientists and engineers in person. It was the first successful landing on the Moon in almost 40 years and made China only the third nation to engineer a “soft landing” on the surface, after the US and former Soviet Union, and will soften the blow for many if the Jade Rabbit does not complete its mission as planned.

“No matter what the future may hold, you cannot say the Jade Rabbit is a failure,” said Fu Song, an aerospace professor at Tsinghua University. “It landed and was functioning. That was an important first for Chinese science.”

China, a recent entrant to the space race, intends to land a person on the moon by 2025.

Additional reporting by Wan Li

周三晚间,中国的玉兔月球探测车似乎已在睡眠状态下死去,却不料在拂晓时分再次苏醒。官方媒体正费力地跟踪报道令人瞩目的中国探月项目的最新转折。

中国新闻社曾报道称,玉兔的功能“无法完全恢复”,但几个小时后,官方的新华社表示,这台探月车“苏醒”,并恢复到信号接收状态。“它起码还活着,就有救过来的可能性,”探月项目发言人对新华社记者说。

稍后,玉兔在新浪微博发出近两周来的首条博文:“Hi,有人在吗?”

记者无法联系上中国国家国防科技工业局(State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence)的发言人就这个探月项目的命运置评。中国领导层将自己的一部分信誉押在了这个项目上。

月兔在12月登陆月球后,中国公众热切关注着这台探月车的探测经历。1月下旬,中国官方媒体曾在一篇不寻常的报道中以第一人称透露月兔可能死去,从而让公众做好思想准备。

1月27日,一个机械故障似乎阻止玉兔在14天的“月夜”来临之前完全遮盖其监视和通信设备。月夜期间,由于月亮处在地球的阴影下,太阳能供电的探月车不得不进入休眠状态。

“本来我也应该今早开始睡觉,但入睡前,师父们发现我的机构控制出现异常,”新华社援引这台探月车的话表示。“我知道,有可能熬不过这个月夜了。”三个月的探月任务仅执行到一半的玉兔报告这个消息之际,美国宇航局(NASA)的“机遇号”(Opportunity)在火星上的作业进入第11年。

当14天的月夜在本周早些时候结束、光照恢复后,新华社和其它官方媒体均保持了静默——直到周三夜间才发布简短和相互矛盾的报道,月兔的博文随后出现。

“很难说玉兔是死了还是活着,因为我们不知道故障究竟发生在哪里,”北京大学(Peking University)地球与空间科学学院(School of Earth and Space Science)教授焦维新表示。“要是在过去,在他们确信它绝对死亡之前,是不会有任何报道的。”

月兔探月车于12月1日发射升空,媒体大张旗鼓地予以报道,这个项目的进展主导了国内新闻日程。在玉兔前往月球的两周行程中,对这件事铺天盖地的报道被用于冲淡早几天中国在东海划设防空识别区所引发的区域危机。

玉兔在12月14日成功登月被誉为一个民族胜利,中国国家主席习近平亲临项目指挥部祝贺科学家和工程技术人员。这是近40年来首次成功登陆月球,使中国成为继美国和前苏联之后,第三个实现月球表面“软着陆”的国家;如果玉兔没有按计划完成使命,这一点将可缓解许多人所受到的打击。

“不管将来发生什么,你不能说玉兔是失败的,”清华大学(Tsinghua University)航天航空学院教授符松表示。 “它降落在月球表面,并发挥了功能。这对中国科学事业来说是一个重要的创举。”

近年加入太空竞赛的中国,打算在2025年将航天员送上月球。

Wan Li补充报道

译者/和风

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