China's Mars rover soldiers
GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)
China's Zhurong Mars rover is soldiering on after completing its initial program to explore the red planet and search for frozen water that could provide clues as to whether it once supported life. Zhurong completed its 90-day program on 15 Aug. 2021 and was in excellent technical condition and fully charged.
- It said it would continue to explore the area known as Utopia Planitia where it landed on 14 May 2021.
- Zhurong has been consistently sending back photos and data via the Tianwen-1 orbiter that crosses over it once a day.
- After the United States, China is the second country to land and sustainably operate a spacecraft on Mars, where days are 40 minutes longer than on Earth.
- Zhurong is significantly smaller than the American Perseverance rover, which is exploring the planet with a tiny helicopter.
- NASA expects its rover to collect its first sample in July for return to Earth as early as 2031.
- China also recently brought back lunar samples, the first by any country's space program since the 1970s, and has landed a probe and rover on the moon's less explored far side.
- China first put an astronaut into orbit in 2003, becoming just the third country to do so.