China's Mars Rover Hasn't Moved in Months

Zhurong's roaming days might be over
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 22, 2021 9:15 AM CDT
Updated Feb 24, 2023 7:40 AM CST
China's Rover Is Now Roaming Around Mars
In this image released on Saturday, a ramp and the surface of Mars are seen from a camera on the Chinese Mars rover Zhurong.   (CNSA via AP)
UPDATE Feb 24, 2023 7:40 AM CST

China's first Mars rover appears to have finished roaming. CNET reports that images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show the solar-powered Zhurong rover has been inactive since September 2022 and possibly longer. The rover, which entered a planned hibernation in May last year, didn't budge between an image taken on Sept. 8 and the most recent image on Feb. 7. Controllers had expected the rover to wake up in December as light returned in the Martian spring, reports China hasn't released any recent updates on the rover. CNET notes that if the rover has indeed reached the end of its lifespan, it has already completed its main objectives and far exceeded the three-month lifespan that was predicted when it landed on Mars in May 2021.

May 22, 2021 9:15 AM CDT

China's first Mars rover has driven down from its landing platform and is now roaming the surface of the red planet, China's space administration said Saturday. The solar-powered rover touched Martian soil at 10:40am on Saturday Beijing time, the China National Space Administration said. China landed the spacecraft carrying the rover on Mars last Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in a first for the country. It's the second country to do so, after the United States, per the AP. Named after the Chinese god of fire, Zhurong, the rover had been running diagnostics tests for several days before it began its exploration Saturday. It's expected to be deployed for 90 days to search for evidence of life.

The US also has an ongoing Mars mission, with the Perseverance rover and a tiny helicopter exploring the planet. NASA expects the rover to collect its first sample in July for return to Earth as early as 2031. China has ambitious space plans that include launching a crewed orbital station and landing a human on the moon. In 2019, China became the first country to land a space probe on the little-explored far side of the moon. In December, it returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s.

(More Mars rover stories.)

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