BEIJING — Yutu, China’s lunar rover, is alive after all, though possibly too impaired by unspecified mechanical problems to resume its mission exploring the moon.

After hours of conflicting reports, a spokesman for China’s lunar program announced late Thursday that his agency had received electronic signals from the rover, indicating that the craft had awakened after 14 Earth days in the brutally cold lunar night.

The fate of Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, is closely watched here. The first Chinese space object to land on the moon — and the first by any country since a Russia probe in 1976 — Yutu is a symbol of China’s technological advance.

However, a failure would be a partial setback to China’s space program, one of many propaganda tools China’s leaders use to shore up popular support at home.

But it’s also a serious scientific effort, equipped with technology that didn’t exist in 1976, including ground-penetrating radar expected to reveal what’s 100 feet below the lunar surface.