Jade Rabbit lunar rover

Actor Patrick Stewart plays dying moon rover on US late-night show

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 February, 2014, 3:41am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 February, 2014, 5:44am

US talk shows have seized upon the stories released by Xinhua that update the public on the malfunctioning lunar rover.

The "dispatches" are written in the first person, and are intended to appear as if the Jade Rabbit writes them. The result suggests a plucky adventurer, mulling over life and death, but ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for "humanity".

The pathos proved too much for some TV comics to resist. On Tuesday, Jon Stewart's The Daily Show ran a "live" segment of the rover delivering its message, with British actor Patrick Stewart playing the part of the Jade Rabbit.

"My masters found I have a mechanical control abnormality. Some of my body parts will not obey their commands," the 73-year-old stage legend said, his voice a mix of sadness and stoicism. "The sun has fallen and the temperature is dropping so quickly," he continued, voice breaking. "To tell you all a secret, I don't feel that sad. I was just in my own adventure story - and like every hero, I encountered a small problem.

Good night, Earth. Good night, humanity," Stewart said, to applause and laughter from the studio audience.

China's first successful landing on the lunar surface became a moment of national pride last December. But the six-wheeled rover reported a problem late last month, just before the moon entered a two-week lunar night when temperatures drop to minus 180 degrees Celsius.

The rover would have frozen if it was unable to close its solar panels in time.

In the diary, the rover said it hoped people would console the Chang'e-3 spacecraft that took it to the moon.

"If I really cannot be fixed, when the time comes, I hope everyone will remember to help me comfort her."