China releases videos of its Zhurong Mars rover
China's space agency has released video of its Zhurong rover trundling across the surface of Mars.
The pictures were acquired by a wireless camera that the robot had placed on the ground.
The new media release also includes sequences from Zhurong's landing in May, showing the deployment of its parachute system and the moment of touchdown.
The six-wheeled robot is investigating a region known as Utopia Planitia.
The China National Space Agency (CNSA) says Zhurong has driven 236m in 42 Mars sols (as of 27 June). A sol is a Martian day. It lasts slightly longer than an Earth day, at 24 hours and 39 minutes.
The latest movies were relayed back to Earth via the Tianwen-1 satellite which orbits the Red Planet.
"The orbiter and the Mars rover are in good working condition, reporting safely from Mars to the party and the motherland, and sending distant blessings on the century of the party's founding," a CNSA press statement said.
The first of July will mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
A video release was expected, especially of the landing, which occurred on 14 May. Some preview stills looking up at the parachute system from the rover's entry capsule were handed out last week.
In the movie version, however, we see the envelope inflate in the rarefied Martian atmosphere. We also see Zhurong and its landing platform drop away from the "backshell" of the capsule; and finally a look-down camera captures the moment of touchdown as the platform's braking rocket motor blasts the surface clear of dust.
There are three videos on the surface. The first, presumably taken shortly after Zhurong put the wireless camera on the ground, shows the robot backing away.
The second video shows Zhurong wiggling its wheels while sitting next to its landing platform. The CNSA had previously released a still from this scene.
And, finally, the third video details the rover's roll down the ramp that got it off the landing platform on to the surface. What's interesting about this movie is that we get sound as well. We can hear the robot's locomotion system in action.
The nature of Mars' atmosphere means noises don't sound quite the same as they do on Earth. They seem somewhat muffled.
Scientists are hoping to get at least 90 Martian days of service out of Zhurong.
The robot looks a lot like the American space agency's (Nasa) Spirit and Opportunity vehicles from the 2000s.
It weighs some 240kg. A tall mast carries cameras to take pictures and aid navigation; five additional instruments will investigate the mineralogy of local rocks and the general nature of the environment, including the weather.
Like the current American rovers (Curiosity and Perseverance), Zhurong has a laser tool to zap rocks to assess their chemistry. It also has a radar to look for sub-surface water-ice - a capability it shares with Perseverance.
Videos of the landing of Perseverance were released by Nasa shortly after its descent to the Martian surface on 18 February.
China's Mars rover travels over 400 meters
China's Mars rover Zhurong has traveled more than 400 meters on the surface of the red planet, according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration on Monday.
The orbiter of Tianwen-1 mission has worked normally in orbit for 353 days as of 8:00 p.m. Sunday (Beijing Time). The distance between Earth and Mars is 370.7 million km.
The rover has traveled 410.025 meters and worked normally, the center said.
China's Tianwen-1 mission, consisting of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020. The lander carrying the rover touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, on May 15. Enditem
China's Mars rover Zhurong just found its parachute and backshell
China's Mars rover Zhurong has given us a nice close-up look at some of the vital gear it used to land safely on the Red Planet in May.
On Monday (July 12), Zhurong rolled up to investigate its parachute and backshell, which fell to the red dirt a short distance away from the rover's landing site on the huge Martian plain Utopia Planitia.
Zhurong captured black-and-white images of the gear with its hazard-avoidance cameras, including one shot that also features the rover's own tracks. And the robot snapped a stunning color photo of the parachute-backshell assembly as well. (The backshell covered the rover and its lander on its way to Mars, and through much of the planet's atmosphere.)
"The complete back cover structure after aerodynamic ablation, the attitude control engine diversion hole on the back cover is clearly identifiable," Chinese space officials wrote in a description of the image on Thursday (July 15).
When it took the color photo, Zhurong was about 100 feet (30 meters) from the back shell and roughly 1,150 feet (350 m) from its landing site, the officials added.
Zhurong is part of Tianwen 1, China's first fully homegrown Mars mission. Tianwen 1 launched in July 2020 and arrived in orbit around the Red Planet this past February, about a week before NASA's Perseverance rover made it to Mars.
In mid-May, Zhurong separated from the Tianwen 1 orbiter and touched down on Mars, making China just the second nation, after the U.S., to successfully land a robot on the Martian surface and operate it for an appreciable length of time. (The Soviet Union's Mars 3 spacecraft landed successfully in 1971 but died about two minutes later. And the European Space Agency's Beagle 2 lander may have touched down safely in December 2003, but it never made contact with its handlers.)
Zhurong is studying the geology and topography of its surroundings and hunting for buried water ice, among other tasks, during a surface mission designed to last at least 90 Mars days, or sols (about 93 Earth days). The Tianwen 1 orbiter, which relays communications to and from Zhurong in addition to performing its own observations, will operate for at least one Mars year (687 Earth days), if all goes according to plan.
As of Thursday, Zhurong has been exploring the Martian surface for 60 sols and has traveled a total of 1,476 feet (450 m), Chinese officials wrote in the image description.
This isn't the first time that a Mars rover has inspected its own entry, descent and landing hardware. For example, NASA's Opportunity rover gave us a similar shot in December 2004, nearly a year after it touched down.
China's Mars rover travels over 509 meters on red planet
China's Mars rover Zhurong has traveled more than 509 meters on the surface of the red planet as of 11 p.m. Saturday, according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.
The rover will soon arrive at the second sand dune on its journey on the red planet. It will carry out a detailed survey of the dune and surrounding environment, said the administration.
As of Saturday, Zhurong has been operating on the surface of Mars for 63 Martian days. A Martian day is approximately 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth.
China's Tianwen-1 spacecraft, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020. The lander carrying the rover touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, on May 15.
About 375 million km away from Earth, the orbiter of Tianwen-1 has operated in orbit for 359 days as of Saturday. The delay of its one-way communication was around 21 minutes.
Both the Mars rover Zhurong and Tianwen-1 spacecraft are working in normal conditions, with their subsystems operating normally, according to the administration. Enditem
China's Mars rover travels over 800 meters on red planet
China's Mars rover Zhurong has traveled more than 800 meters on the surface of the red planet as of Friday, according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.
Zhurong has been traversing a complex terrain full of rocks, craters and dunes, and its rear hazard-avoidance camera captured a picture of the rover just moving across the rocks.
As of August 6, 2021, the rover has worked on the surface of Mars for 82 Martian days and the orbiter has been in orbit for 379 days. The two are in good condition and functioning properly.
A Martian day is approximately 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth. Enditem
China's Mars rover accomplishes planned exploration tasks
Photo released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows an image taken by the navigation terrain camera onboard the rover Zhurong. China's Mars rover Zhurong has accomplished its exploration and detection tasks as planned, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Tuesday. As of Aug. 15, 2021, Zhurong had worked on the surface of Mars for 90 Martian days, or about 92 days on Earth, with all scientific payloads having started to work on detection tasks, said the administration. The CNSA added that the rover will continue to move to the boundary zone between the ancient sea and the ancient land in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, and will carry out additional tasks. (CNSA/Handout via Xinhua)
China's Mars rover Zhurong has accomplished its exploration and detection tasks as planned, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Tuesday.
As of Aug. 15, 2021, Zhurong had worked on the surface of Mars for 90 Martian days, or about 92 days on Earth, with all scientific payloads having started to work on detection tasks, said the administration.
The rover has traveled 889 meters as of Aug. 15, and its scientific payloads have collected about 10 Gb of raw data. Now the rover runs stably and operates in good condition with sufficient energy.
The CNSA added that the rover will continue to move to the boundary zone between the ancient sea and the ancient land in the southern part of Utopia Planitia and will carry out additional tasks.
According to the administration, Zhurong operated with a cycle of seven days during its exploration and detection. Its navigation terrain camera obtained topographic data along the way to support the rover's path planning and detection target selection.
Zhurong's subsurface detection radar acquired the data of the layered structure below the Martian surface, which analyzes the shallow surface structure and explores the possible underground water and ice.
The surface magnetic field detector obtained local magnetic field data and cooperated with the magnetometer in the orbiter to explore the evolution process of the Mars magnetic field.
The CNSA said the data collected by seven scientific payloads aboard the rover have been processed and verified. Chinese research teams can apply to China's Lunar and Deep Space Exploration, an organization operated by CNSA's Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center.
The data will be released monthly, the CNSA added.
China's Tianwen-1 mission, consisting of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020.
The lander, carrying the rover with an expected lifespan of at least 90 Martian days or about three months on Earth, touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, on May 15.
Zhurong drove down from its landing platform to the Martian surface on May 22, starting its exploration of the red planet. Enditem