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

China's Jade Rabbit is still "alive" but has been damaged after being hit by rocks on the surface of the moon.

Also known as Yutu, the moon rover has experienced difficulties since January when it failed to shut down properly before entering the lunar night, during which temperatures plummet for about two weeks.

Despite these difficulties, scientists claim Jade Rabbit came out of the night alive – but it has been plagued by problems since.

China's Xinhua news agency has said that the "ailing" rover had been damaged by rocks on the surface of the moon knocking against it, with the deputy chief designer of the Chang'e-3 mission explaining the lunar surface is more complicated than they had anticipated.

Zhang Yuhua said: "It is almost like a gravel field. Experts' initial judgement for the abnormality of Yutu was that the rover was 'wounded' by colliding with stones while moving."

jade rabbit
Yutu marked China's first mission to the moon. Getty Images

However, Zhang also said the rover was "much stronger than expected" and has survived seven lunar nights so far. With each lunar night, Yutu is weakened, she explained.

"Yutu has 'over-served' its time on the moon and sent lots of data back to Earth. We hope it can continue to work miracles" Zhang said.

Jade Rabbit captured worldwide attention by sending a message to its Twitter followers warning of its impending death.

"If this journey must come to an early end, I am not afraid. Whether or not the repairs are successful, I believe even my malfunctions will provide my masters with valuable information and experience," it said.

"Even so, I know I may not make it through this lunar night. The sun has already set here and the temperature is falling very quickly ... I'm not feeling especially sad. Just like any other hero, I've only encountered a little problem while on my own adventure. Good night, planet earth. Good night, humanity."

Two weeks later, the Yutu Lunar Rover posted another message, announcing its survival. The message - "Hi, anybody there?" – was reposted thousands of times.