Chinese Zhurong Rover Marks 100 Days of Exploring Mars

Zhurong rover and its lander on the surface of Mars. (Credit: CNSA)

BEIJING (CNSA PR) — Zhurong, rover of China’s first interplanetary probe mission Tianwen-1, has worked on Mars surface for 100 days as of Monday, and has driven 1,064 meters south from its landing point.

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China’s Zhurong Mars Rover Continues Past 3 Month Nominal Mission

Zhurong rover and its lander on the surface of Mars. (Credit: CNSA)

BEIJING (China National Space Administration PR) — China’s Mars rover Zhurong has outlived its three-month life expectancy with all of its predetermined tasks completed, according to the China National Space Administration.

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Launch 2020: China’s Space Program Continued to Surge with a Number of Firsts

Long March 3B lifts off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. (Credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Group)

China’s surging space program showed no sign of slowing down last year as it tied its own launch record and moved ahead with ambitious space missions and a set of new launchers.

China compiled a record of 35 successes and four failures in 2020. That matched the number of launch attempts made in 2018, a year that saw 38 successes and a single failure.

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Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.

First in a series

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

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China Releases Photos of Zhurong Rover on Surface of Mars

Zhurong rover and its lander on the surface of Mars. (Credit: CNSA)

BEIJING (CNSA PR) — On June 11, at the unveiling ceremony of the first batch of scientific images of the Tianwen-1 rover landing on Mars in Beijing, the panoramic view of the landing site, the topography of Mars, the “Chinese imprint” and the photographs such as a group photo with a tour. The release of the first batch of scientific image maps marked the complete success of China’s first Mars exploration mission.

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China’s Zhurong Rover Rolls onto Surface of Mars

Zhurong rolls onto the surface of Mars. (Credit: CNSA)

BEIJING (CNSA PR) — Judging from the telemetry data, at 10:40 on May 22, the Zhurong rover had safely left the landing platform, reached the surface of Mars, and began to patrol and explore.

The scientific goal of the Tianwen-1 mission is to study the morphology and geological structure characteristics of Mars, the characteristics of the soil on the surface of Mars and the distribution of water ice, the composition of the surface material on Mars, the ionosphere of Mars and the characteristics of the surface climate and environment, the physical field and internal structure of Mars, etc. .

Since the probe was launched on July 23, 2020, during the ground-fire transfer flight and the ring-fire orbit operation, the orbiter is equipped with a medium-resolution camera, a high-resolution camera, a mineral spectrum analyzer, a magnetometer and other 7 scientific instruments. The payload started to detect and obtain scientific data. 

Zhurong rolls onto the surface of Mars. (Credit: CNSA)

During the fire surface work, the rover will carry out environmental perception, fire surface movement and scientific detection in the patrol area as planned. Through the configuration of the terrain camera, multi-spectral camera, subsurface detection radar, surface composition detector and other 6 payloads, the inspection area Carry out detailed detection. 

At the same time, the orbiter will operate in the relay orbit to provide stable relay communication for the Mars rover patrol and detection, and take into account the development of surround detection.

China Releases First Images From Martian Surface

Zhurong rover on the surface of Mars. (Credit: CNSA)

China released the first photographs of its Zhurong rover on the surface of Mars. The vehicle landed on the Red Planet’s Utopia Planitia on May 14. China is the third nation after the Soviet Union and the United States to land on Mars.

The ramp that the Zhurong rover will take to the surface of Mars. (Credit: CNSA)

China also released animated gif images of the Zhurong lander separating from the Tianwen-1 orbiter.

Zhurong separates from the Tianwen-1 orbiter. (Credit: CNSA)
Zhurong separates from the Tianwen-1 orbiter. (Credit: CNSA)

Zhurong will explore Mars with six instruments:

  • ground-penetrating radar (GPR) capable of imaging 100 meters (330 ft) below the surface
  • Mars surface magnetic field detector
  • Mars meteorological measurement Instrument
  • Mars surface compound detector, which combines laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy and infrared spectroscopy
  • multi-spectrum camera
  • navigation and topography camera.

China’s First Mars Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Red Planet

First released picture of Mars from China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

BEIJING (China National Space Administration PR) — At 19:52 on February 10, 2021, China’s first Mars exploration mission, Tianwen-1, carried out near-fire capture braking. The 3000N orbital control engine of the orbiter ignited for about 15 minutes, and the probe successfully entered the near-fire altitude.

A large elliptical orbit of 400 kilometers, with a period of about 10 Earth days and an inclination of about 10º, has become my country’s first man-made Mars satellite, achieving the goal of “orbiting, landing, and patrolling.” Zhang Kejian, director of the National Space Administration and commander-in-chief of the first Mars exploration mission, announced the success of orbiting Mars.

Zhang Kejian said that in the early hours of this morning, the UAE “Hope” has successfully entered the orbit of the ring fire. I would like to congratulate the UAE colleagues and wish the U.S. “Perseverance” a successful landing on Mars in the coming days! Exploring the vast universe is the common dream of all mankind. We will cooperate sincerely and go hand in hand with countries all over the world to make mankind’s exploration of space go further. On the occasion of the New Year holiday, on behalf of the first Mars exploration mission engineering headquarters, I would like to extend Chinese New Year blessings to all the participants in the research! I hope that everyone will keep in mind General Secretary Xi Jinping’s “starting a new journey of interstellar exploration one step at a time”, and make persistent efforts, meticulous organization, and precise implementation to ensure the complete success of the “Tianwen No. 1” project mission of “circumnavigation, patrol”.

After the first Mars exploration mission entered the Mars capture phase from the ground fire transfer phase, the medium-resolution camera, high-resolution camera, magnetometer, mineral spectrum analyzer, ion and neutral particles and energy particles carried by the Tianwen-1 orbiter The payloads such as sounding instruments will continue to work to carry out multi-dimensional exploration of Mars.

Since its successful launch on July 23, 2020, the Tianwen-1 probe has accumulated 202 days of flight, completed 1 deep-space maneuver and 4 midway corrections, and had a flight mileage of approximately 475 million kilometers upon reaching Mars, and a distance of approximately 1.92 from Earth. 100 million kilometers, the one-way delay of device-to-ground communication is about 10.7 minutes, and each system is in good condition. Subsequent Tianwen-1 will undergo several orbital adjustments, enter the Mars mooring orbit, and carry out pre-selected landing zone exploration. It is planned to choose an opportunity to land on Mars from May to June 2021 and carry out inspections.

CASC: More Than 40 Launches Planned for 2021

Long March 5 launches the Chang’e-5 mission to the moon. (Credit: CNSA)

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) says it is gearing up to launch more than 40 times in 2020, which would break a national record. The Xinhua news agency reports:

The construction of China’s space station, the key space mission in the year, will enter a crucial stage, according to the CASC.

The country plans to launch the core module of its manned space station in the first half of 2021. Subsequent space missions include the launches of the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft and the Shenzhou-12 manned craft.

China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 is designed to complete orbiting, landing and roving this year.

The spacecraft, launched on July 23, 2020, is expected to enter the Mars orbit around February. Afterward, it will spend two to three months surveying potential landing sites to prepare for its landing in May.

China launched 39 times with 35 successes and four failures in 2020,

PolyU-made Space Instruments Complete Lunar Sampling for Chang’e 5

Professor YUNG Kai-leung (right) and Dr Robert TAM have developed valuable experience from participating in several lunar exploration projects of the Nation. (Credit: Hong Kong Polytechnic University)

HONG KONG, 8 December 2020 (PolyU PR) — In support of the Nation’s first lunar sample return mission, a research team at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) developed and manufactured one of the key systems for this historic undertaking, namely the “Surface Sampling and Packing System”, in collaboration with the China Academy of Space Technology.

The PolyU-developed system accomplished the tasks of automatic sample collection and packaging on the lunar surface following the soft landing of the Chang’e 5 probe on 1 December 2020. The vehicle carrying the samples is currently on course back to Earth, and is expected to touch down in China’s Inner Mongolia region next week.

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PolyU Contributes to the China’s First Mars Mission with Mars Camera

Tianwen-1 spacecraft (Credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has successfully developed and manufactured the “Mars Landing Surveillance Camera” (“Mars Camera”), one of the key instruments onboard the Mars spacecraft, to participate in the Nation’s first Mars mission Tianwen-1, which was launched today.

HONG KONG, JULY 23, 2020 (PolyU PR) — The spacecraft for the Mars probe comprises an orbiter, a lander and a rover, aiming to complete orbiting, landing and roving in one single mission, an unprecedented attempt globally, as well as to obtain scientific exploration data on the Red Planet.

Located on the outside top surface of the Mars lander platform, the Mars Camera will monitor the landing status, the surrounding environment and movements of the rover with respect to the unfolding and status of the solar panels and antennae. The information is critical for the successful movement of the Mars Rover onto the Mars surface.

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China Launches Tianwen-1 Mission to Mars

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Long March 5 booster roared off the launch pad from Wenchang on Thursday morning, sending an orbiter, lander and rover to Mars in China’s most ambitious robotic space mission to date.

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Ambitious Chinese Mars Mission Includes Orbiter, Rover

Tianwen-1 spacecraft (Credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In its most ambitious robotic space mission to date, China will launch an orbiter, lander and rover to Mars later this week.

A Long March 5 booster is set to launch the Tianwen-1 mission from the Wenchang spaceport on Thursday, July 23.

Tianwen-1 is the first Mars mission that China has attempted on its own. The Chinese Yinghuo-1 sub-satellite was launched aboard Russia’s Phobos-Grunt mission in November 2011. However, the ambitious mission to the martian moon never left Earth orbit.

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