It seems that most rover-related attention recently has been on Mars, with Curiosity recently getting there.

However, it seems there are also benefits to exploring places a little closer to home, such as the moon.

Have there been any unmanned surface missions to the moon in the past decade? Have there been any?


2 Answers 2


Update 2019:

  • The Chinese Chang'e 3 mission landed the Yutu rover (meaning "jade rabbit") in December 2013. The rover was mobile for 42 days and communicated for 973 days. Its ground-penetrating radar discovered 9 rock layers, and it photographed a terran eclipse of the Sun.

  • Chang'e 4 landed the Yutu 2 rover on the far side of the moon in January 2019. It is still operational and the only operational rover on the moon.

  • India is scheduled to launch Chandrayaan-2 on July 14. It will land near Chang'e 4 and carry the Pragyaan rover.

  • Other scheduled rovers include an amateur German group (ALQ, 2020), a Mexican micro-rover (Peregrine, 2020), a small Chilean rover (Unity, 2020), a Carnegie-Mellon University rover (CubeRover, 2021), a JAXA rover (SLIM, 2021), and a private Japanese rover (ispace, 2021).


Not in the last decade, no. The Russian Luna 24 was the last unmanned lunar rover, and it was deployed in 1976.

However, there are several planned lunar rovers, such as the Chinese Chang'e 3 rover. It is scheduled for launch in December 2013 - fairly soon!

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After landing, a solar-powered rover will roll off the lander and commence its mission, which is expected to last for at least three months, although presumably that will include a lot of down-time while the two-week-long lunar nights prevail.

The Chang’e 3 lander itself will continue to operate as a stationary science platform. It will be powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator and hence will be largely unaffected by the presence or absence of direct sunlight. The lander will operate a number of science instruments, including an optical telescope and a “soil probe” to conduct analyses of lunar regolith.

The Chang’e 3 rover will have a mass of 120 kilograms, including a 20 kg science payload.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Luna 24 was not a rover, but a stationary lander. There were 2 unmanned moon rovers in that era: Lunokhod 1 and 2. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Jul 8, 2018 at 10:59

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