BEIJING, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- "Hi! This could be the last greetings from me!"
The Sina Weibo farewell message posted four days ago by user "Jade Rabbit Lunar Rover," which posts first-person accounts of Yutu, China's lunar rover, caused a stir on China's social media. Yutu and his antics have continued to proved hugely popular across China.
"The moon says it has prepared a long, long dream for me, and I'm wondering what the dream would be like-- would I be a mars explorer, or be sent back to earth?" the lunar rover continued.
The post received nearly 100,000 shares, likes and comments.
"Good night bunny, Chinese astronauts will bring you home and you will never be alone," said netizen "running snail."
"Have a sweet dream! You will get countless carrot pies in your dream," said another netizen.
It's not the first time that the rover has sent a farewell message, but this time the message appears to really be the last. Yutu has ceased operation after 972 days of service on the moon, according to a source from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, cited in the People's Daily on Tuesday.
But many netizens were not willing to believe that Yutu is really gone.
"Please, never say farewell, just say 'see you later.'" said netizen "Luojiahuanghou."
Named after the pet rabbit of the moon goddess Chang'e, the health status of the lunar rover has rarely left the public imagination. The greeting, "Hi, anybody there?" posted on February 13, 2014, just two hours after the rover "woke" again and narrowly survived after having experienced mechanical difficulties, prompted over 60,000 reposts and 40,000 comments.
Designed to survive just three months, Yutu has been operating on the moon for over two years, lasting longer than the Soviet Union's 1970 moon rover Lunokhod 1, which spent 11 months on the moon.
Reflecting on his own life, the lunar adventurer seemed satisfied.
"I'm a rabbit that has seen the most stars!"
It also said there were many questions left unanswered and was looking forward to future exploration.
"If you are going to explore the deep universe, remember to take pictures and share with me," it said.
Many Chinese netizens were deeply upset after reading Yutu's last post.
"I don't know why I am so heartbroken. It's just a machine after all," said netizen "bazinga bagz."
Alongside sending their best wishes to the lunar probe, wistful netizens created an imaginative ending for Yutu's life.
"Years later, an astronaut, one of the many young fans of Yutu as child, finds a chip among a pile of metal objects (on the Moon). Seconds after he inserts the chip in his computer, to his great surprise, a message pops up: 'Hi, my dear, I've been waiting for you. From Yutu.'" wrote netizen "Sunxiaoshe NZ Lengbaike."