China unveils Mars mission results, rover travels 1.9 km on Red Planet

Over a year after it landed on Mars, China’s Zhurong rover has covered 1,921 meters on the surface of the alien planet as it continues to explore the region. The details were released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) as part of the scientific research results from the country’s maiden Mars mission.

China launched an orbiter, a lander, and a rover to the Red Planet in 2020 in what was an ambitious mission to attempt all three milestones in a single mission. The mission arrived on Mars in the initial months of 2021 and has been operating since then, both above the planet and on the alien surface.

The Tianwen-1 orbiter has now been in the Martian orbit for 780 days, according to CNSA, and has successfully completed its target objectives. The probe has successfully mapped the entire planet in a year’s time since it began operations. The spacecraft has captured images ranging from Mars’ poles to the surface features, canyons, and craters while circling the planet over 1300 times.

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The orbiter has been circling the planet thrice every Martian day or Sol while relaying communication between Earth and the Zhurong rover on the ground.

A selfie of Tianwen-1 around Mars released by CNSA. (Photo: CNSA)

Both the rover and the orbiter, according to CGTN, have acquired 1,480 gigabytes of raw scientific data and have revealed the relationship between the formation of geological features and water activities on Mars. The mission has conducted a comprehensive study of several geological features in the landing area.

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The rover in May this year found new evidence of water on the planet revealing liquid flowed on the surface in the ancient past and confirmed the presence of hydrated minerals that could be exploited by future crewed missions sent by Earth. Scientists also found that the soil on the Red Planet, where the rover was landed, has high bearing strength and low friction parameters, indicating possibilities of water erosion.

The rover has also beamed back data about geological evolution and environmental changes in and around its location in the Utopian Planitia, which is believed to have been an ocean about a billion years ago. The rover is in the large plain area within the largest known impact basin in the solar system. The 240-kilogram robot is the core component of the Tianwen-1 mission.

China aims to develop a comprehensive topographic model of the Red Planet as the search for life continues on the surface.

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