China’s Zhurong Mars rover is silent despite hopes of waking up in December – but there is still hope the vehicle may rise from its slumber.
Zhurong is part of Tianwen 1, China’s first interplanetary mission, including a Mars orbiter. Rover touches back on Red Planet’s Utopia Planicia in May 2021 and conducts multiple ranges Science And Investigation before entering the activities dormant state In May 2022, the northern hemisphere of Mars to look forward to a cold winter.
Zhurong was expected to wake up in December, at the time of the Martian spring equinox. However, so far there has been silence from both the rover and its operators in China reports That spacecraft could be in trouble.
Connected: China’s first Mars rover and Tianwen 1 orbiter may have gone silent
Yet hope remains that Zhurong is experiencing a colder than expected and can still wake itself up and resume activities.
Jia Yang, a Tianwen 1 mission deputy chief designer, Told (opens in new tab) told reporters in September 2022 that Zhurong would wake up autonomously when two conditions were met. These are temperatures in excess of 5 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 15 degrees Celsius) and power outputs in excess of 140 watts.
weather data from nasa Perseverance The rover – which is nuclear-powered and does not need to hibernate – shows that temperatures in Mars’ Jezero Crater have risen just above this minimum heat requirement. Perseverance also has a latitude some seven degrees south of Zhurong and is thus closer to Mars’ equator, meaning it may experience slightly more favorable conditions than China’s rover.
The other factor affecting Zurong is that dust storms may have deposited Martian sand on Zurong’s solar arrays, hindering its ability to generate power and wake itself up. The rover’s butterfly-shaped solar panels use anti-dust materials, and Zhurong is equipped with a vibration function to shake off accumulated dust. However, employing this latter measure would require the rover to be active.
Time will tell whether Zhurong will once again roam the surface of Mars, but the mission has already achieved great success. The landing made China the second country after the US to successfully operate a rover on Mars, and both the Zhurong and Tianwen 1 orbiters. That which has been completed their primary mission,
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