2021 has been a year of phenomenal achievement for China. On May 14, the Chinese landed a Rover named “Zhurong”- named after the Fire God in Chinese Mythology- and became the second country after the United States to land a rover on Mars!
Chi wang, the director of the National Space Science Center at the Chinese Academy of sciences said, “This is really a milestone for the Chinese Space Program”. He continued by saying,”It signifies Chinese space exploration steps out of the Earth-Moon system and heads for the [Mars] planetary system. A mission like this demonstrates China has the capability to explore the entire solar system.”
Zhurong is a small 6 wheeled-rover that is a part of the Tianwen-1 mission. The rover weighs 240 kilograms, carries 6 instruments and will be powered by solar panels.
The Rover will spend a week studying its surroundings and performing system checks. The rover is expected to send its first few pictures of the surface soon.
The Zhurong Rover flew to Mars with an Orbiter called the Tianwen-1 Mars Orbiter. The Orbiter was orbiting Mars in a 2-day period and later shifted to an 8 hour period to easily convey data and information between the rover and mission control located on Earth.
The Goal of Tianwen-1 mission:
China will use the 13 instruments on the Tianwen-1 Mission (6 on the rover and 7 on the orbiter) to study the geology and soil mineralogy of Mars. In addition, it will also map out its water-ice distribution, characterise its surface climate and environment and probe its electromagnetic and gravitational forces.
Zhurong is equipped with a ground penetrating radar that can probe activity and structures upto 100 meters deep. This radar will be used to search for underground water reservoirs.