Videos The China National Space Administration has released videos and pictures of its first Mars rover scooting around on the surface of the Red Planet.
Plonking a robot in one piece on Mars is no easy feat. China is only the second Earth nation to successfully pull it off after the United States. The Middle Kingdom's Zhurong rover separated from its mothership Tianwen-1 and landed last month.
Shadow cast by the Zhurong rover, the first functional non-American rover on Mars ... Image Credit: China National Space Administration. Click to enlarge
“As of the morning of the 27th, the Tianwen-1 orbiter has been in orbit for 338 days, with a distance of 360 million kilometers from Mars,” CNSA said.
“The Zhurong rover has been working on the surface of Mars for 42 Martian days and has traveled 236 metres in total. The orbiter and the Mars rover are in good working condition, reporting safety from Mars to the party and the motherland, and sending distant blessings on the centuries of the party's founding.”
The statement from the agency was emitted ahead of the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Chinese Communist Party.
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Below is a short clip recorded by a camera onboard Zhurong the moment it deployed its parachute to decelerate during its descent from Tianwen-1 to the Martian surface. The footage also includes grayscale images taken from the vehicle as it sways side to side while reorienting itself as it tries to pick a clear spot to land on.
The second clip released contains not only more footage of the trundle bot in action but also audio of what it sounded like when the rover rolled off a ramp from its lander to touch down on the Red Planet for the first time. The sound of the wind is in the background and the heavy clunking sounds are from the robot driving down the ramp.
In the same clip, a wireless camera placed on the ground recorded Zhurong slowly truckin' away to explore Mars. In the background, its lander is visible (skip to about 1:04). The images were snapped earlier this month following the rover's official deployment in May.
Zhurong is smaller than NASA’s Perseverance and Curiosity rovers roaming the rust-colored dust world. It weighs roughly 240 kilograms, and is about 1.85 metres tall.
Armed with a range of scientific instruments and powered by its six wheels and four solar panels, the rover has been tasked with analyzing rock samples to hunt down signs of water. China hopes to have its citizens on Mars by the 2040s. ®