jade rabbit
China's Jade Rabbit driving away from the lander after arriving on the moon.China Space/Facebook

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover has "woken up" after a two-week period of being dormant, officials have said.

The moon rover, known as Yutu in Mandarin Chinese, and the Chang'e-3 lander were reactivated by the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre (BACC), China's Xinhua news agency said.

It had been set to dormant for two weeks to ride out extreme climatic conditions and will finally undertake its scientific mission. The Jade Rabbit was "put to sleep" on 26 December at the onset of the first lunar night of the mission.

One night on the moon lasts for around two weeks on Earth and during this time, temperatures fall to -180C - conditions too cold for the equipment to function in. There is also no sunlight to power the Jade Rabbit's solar panels.

Zhou Jianliang, chief engineer with the BACC, explained: "During the lunar night, the lander and the rover were in a power-off condition and the communication with Earth was cut off.

jade rabbit
The lunar mission is to test technologies and build China's space exploration capabilities.China Space/Facebook

"When the night ends, they will be started up with the power provided by sunlight and resume operation and communication according to preset programmes."

He added that the Jade Rabbit surviving the lunar night showed Chinese technology had proven successful.

The Jade Rabbit and the lander compose Chang'e-3 landed on the moon on 14 December.

With the landing, China became one of only three nations to soft-land on the moon, and the first to do so in more than three decades.

Scientists said the mission was designed to test new technologies and build the country's expertise of space exploration. The Jade Rabbit will gather scientific data and capture images from the Moon.

China was planning further missions planned to collect lunar soil samples and it is thought officials are looking to conduct manned lunar landings if they prove successful.