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China’s ‘Zhurong’ rover

Topics Covered: Awareness in space.

China’s ‘Zhurong’ rover:


Context:

China’s uncrewed ‘Tianwen-1’ spacecraft recently landed safely on the surface of Mars.

The spacecraft landed on a large plain located in the northern hemisphere of Mars, known as Utopia Planitia.

  • This makes China the second country in the world to send a rover to explore the mysterious Red Planet.
  • Onboard the lander was the ‘Zhurong’ rover, which will soon be deployed to study the Martian atmosphere and geology.

The Tianwent-1, China’s Mars mission:

Launched in July 2020, the mission consists of an orbiter, a lander and a golf cart-sized rover called ‘Zhurong’.

The spacecraft arrived in Mars’ orbit in February this year.

Yinghuo-1 mission:

This is not the first time China has attempted to send a spacecraft to Mars. Nearly ten years ago, the country launched the Yinghuo-1 mission, which ultimately failed after the spacecraft burnt while still in the Earth’s atmosphere after the Russian rocket that was carrying it failed in flight.

What Next?

If ‘Zhurong’ is deployed without a hitch, China will become the first country to successfully orbit, land and offload a rover during its maiden Mars mission.

Which other countries have managed to send rovers to Mars?

Apart from China, only the United States has been able to deploy rovers to study the surface of the Red Planet.

  1. The first successful landing was made by NASA in July 1976, when the Viking 1 rover touched down on Mars.
  2. Shortly after that, Viking 2 arrived on the Red Planet.
  3. In the decades that followed, the US successfully sent the Opportunity and Spirit rovers to explore Mars.
  4. Most recently, in February this year, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed at the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet, after which it resumed work to look for signs of past life.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Objectives of the mission.
  2. Others Mars missions.
  3. India’s Mars mission.

Mains Link:

Discuss the significance of the mission.

Sources: Indian Express.