• Sun. Oct 17th, 2021

China on Mars, Zhurong rover lands: exploration underway

Byeditorial

May 22, 2021

China’s new Mars adventure began at 10.40 am Beijing time when his Zhurong rover placed its wheels on Martian soil. The announcement of the CNSA, the China National Space Administration was relaunched by the Chinese agency Xinhua and the echo quickly went around the world. Zhurong is in fact the first rover that the Asian giant has sent to the red planet to explore the Martian soil in search of other mysteries and other knowledge and Beijing is the second country in the world to arrive with its rover on Mars. China is the second country after the United States to send a rover to Mars and Zhurong is the sixth rover to scan the red planet after Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity now off, Curiosity active since 2012 and Perseverance at work since last February. It all started on 23 July 2020 when the orbiter, lander and rover were launched from China with the aim of reaching Mars and starting a new page of exploration of the Red Planet. The lander carrying the rover landed on May 15 on the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of the planet. The motor rover, resembling a blue butterfly – with a mass of 240 kilos, about the size of a small car – was named after the fire god of ancient Chinese mythology. The name, Xinhua recalled, echoes the Chinese name of the red planet, Huoxing (the planet of fire), while the mission’s name, Tianwen, means Questions to Heaven, the title of a poem by the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan. lived between 340 and 278 BC With an expected duration of at least 90 Martian days – about three months on Earth – Zhurong will record the Martian landscape with high-resolution three-dimensional images, analyze the material composition of the planet’s surface, detect its surface structure and the magnetic field to search for traces of water ice and observe the surrounding meteorological environment.Zhurong is equipped with various scientific instruments including a multispectral camera, a sub-surface exploration radar, a surface composition detector, a detector of the magnetic field and a meteorological monitor. The orbiter, whose mission is expected to last a Martian year, equal to about 687 days on Earth, will guide the rover with its signals as it moves and works on Martian soil. Six wheels and solar energy, a ‘blue butterfly’ on Mars. six wheels, weighs 240 kilos, little more than a small car, and looks like a blue butterfly. China’s first Mars rover, Zhurong, has descended from its landing pad on the Martian surface and is already leaving China’s first “footprints” on the red planet. Second country after the US to land a rover on Mars, Zhurong is powered by solar energy and this morning, at 10.40 am Beijing time, “he slowly descended from the ramp of his lander” to land on the sandy and red soil of Mars, as he did. announced the China National Space Administration (CNSA) that it has been following the Tianwen-1 mission since last July 23, when it was launched, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a small rover. Compared to the Chinese lunar rover Yutu (Jade Rabbit), Zhurong, the Chinese agency Xinhua reported, has a similar speed of about 200 meters per hour, but the height of the obstacles it can overcome has increased from 20 centimeters to 30 centimeters. . According to the scientists and technologists who designed it, Zhurong can climb slopes of up to 20 degrees and its six wheels are driven independently. Although it arrives after 5 US rovers, China points out that Zhurong has unique characteristics for this: it is the first rover on Mars with an active suspension system. A system that could help the rover out of trouble by moving like a worm on the complicated Martian surface with sandy and rocky soil, said Jia Yang, deputy chief designer of the Tianwen-1 probe, of the China Academy of Space Technology. Zhurong can also walk sideways like a crab, and each of its six wheels can turn in any direction so it can be used to avoid obstacles and climb slopes. Mars is farther from the Sun than the Earth and the Moon, and the Martian atmosphere also reduces sunlight, so the solar panels of the Chinese Martian Rover are about double those of the Lunar Rover. Geng Yan, of CNSA’s Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center, told Xinhua that solar panels must be rotatable to follow the Sun. Zhurong’s solar panels were therefore specially designed to adapt to sunlight on Mars which has a spectrum. different from that on Earth’s orbit, Geng explained. Mars is known for its sandstorms and dust could reduce the efficiency of power generation, so the rover’s solar panels have been specially processed to make it difficult for dust to accumulate, just like water droplets on lotus leaf, which can be blown away by the wind, Geng pointed out again. Some of the power generated by the solar panels during the day will be used for work and the rest will be stored in batteries for night use.In addition, the designers have creatively installed heat collection windows on the rover, which could absorb the solar power during the day and release heat at night to help the rover survive freezing temperatures that can plummet to over 100 degrees Celsius below zero before dawn.

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