On Saturday, China’s Martian rover Zhurong began its scientific exploration on the Red Planet after moving from its landing platform onto the planet’s surface.
The China National Space Administration said on Saturday afternoon that the rover reached the surface at 10.40am.
Zhurong reaching Mars’ surface. Image via 国家航天局
Watch below for a short black-and-white clip of the rover departing the platform and reaching the surface (VPN off):
On this mission, Zhurong is tasked with studying the planet’s surface, landforms, rocks and atmosphere. The 240-kilogram robot will be looking for signs of life as well as any water or ice below the surface.
Zhurong’s exploration on the surface of Mars is the latest chapter in the Tianwen-1 mission, which China Daily describes as “the most sophisticated space adventure ever attempted.” According to the state-run newspaper, China is the first country to send an orbiter, a lander and a rover to Mars in the same expedition.
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Named after an ancient Chinese god of fire, Zhurong landed on Mars on May 15 and spent a week detecting the terrain conditions around the landing site.
According to BBC, the rover will be exploring Utopia Planitia on the planet’s northern hemisphere. There is some evidence that an ocean existed in the colossal basin long ago.
The US landed a rover, named Perseverance, on Mars in February. The six-wheeled, one-ton vehicle will spend two years in a deep crater near Mars’ equator drilling into rocks and looking for evidence of past life.
Zhurong robot was trending on Weibo on Monday, with the hashtag ‘China is the first country to complete a Mars orbit in one go’ (#我国是首个一次完成火星绕落巡的国家#).
[Cover image via 国家航天局]