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Rashid rover sends first signal to UAE space centre, Sheikh Mohammed says

All rover’s devices and systems are working properly, Ruler of Dubai says on Twitter

The Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre has received the first signal from the Rashid rover, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said on Wednesday.

The rover was launched into space on Sunday from the site at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“From a distance of 440,000km from the surface of the Earth, the explorer Rashid just sent the first message to the space centre in Al Khawaneej,” Sheikh Mohammed wrote on Twitter.

“All the devices and systems of the explorer are working properly, and it will begin to enter the orbit of the Moon in preparation for landing during the coming months.”

The small rover is on its way to the Moon aboard the Hakuto-R Mission 1 lander, built by Japanese lunar exploration company ispace, on a journey expected to last five months.

Ispace’s lander separated from the rocket about 35 minutes after lift-off and then began its solo journey to the Moon.

SpaceX’s reusable Falcon 9 booster landed safely back on the company’s drone ship only eight minutes after delivering the lander to space.

The goal is to land the rover in the Atlas crater in the Mare Frigoris site, located in the far-north of the Moon’s near side.

If it manages to soft land on the lunar surface, the lander will set Rashid down on a ramp. They will then communicate by wireless, in the same way mission control monitors the spacecraft and its payload on its journey to the Moon and on the surface.

The rover will study the properties of lunar soil, the petrography and geology of the Moon, dust movement, and study surface plasma conditions and the Moon’s photoelectron sheath.

Lunar dust, or regolith, is one of the main challenges astronauts face on the Moon.

The mission will last one lunar day, or 14 Earth days.

The team also hopes the rover can survive the lunar night, also 14 days, when temperatures plunge to -183°C.