Zhurong Finds its Own Parachute on the Surface of Mars

As of July 23, 2021, China’s Mars rover Zhurong has traveled 585 meters across the surface of Mars. And along the way, it’s taking pictures of interesting sights.

Some of the most intriguing recent images from the rover show debris from the rover’s landing. During its drives, the rover came upon the parachute and backshell. The China National Space Administration says as the rover drove south of its landing site, it first “saw” the debris on the horizon with its front obstacle avoidance camera, and then took a closer image (lead image) with its navigation terrain camera.

Continue reading “Zhurong Finds its Own Parachute on the Surface of Mars”

Shanghai is About to Open the World’s Largest Astronomy Museum

China has certainly been making its growing power and influence felt in recent years, especially when it comes to the realm of space exploration and science. In the past ten years alone, China has deployed the three space stations with their Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”) program, unveiled the Long March 5 heavy launch rocket, and sent robotic missions to the far side of the Moon and the surface of Mars.

Here on Earth, facilities like the Five hundred meter Aperture Space Telescope (FAST) illustrate China’s growing accomplishments in space and astronomy. And on Friday (July 16th), the largest museum in the world dedicated to the study of space – the Shanghai Astronomy Museum – will open its doors. The purpose and design of this museum is to highlight China’s accomplishments in space and astronomy, as well as the country’s future ambitions in space.

Continue readingShanghai is About to Open the World’s Largest Astronomy Museum

China Releases Sound and Video of its Rover Landing

View of Zhurong rover on Mars

Remember the stunning video of the Perseverance rover landing on Mars? The Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has now released similar video footage from its Zhurong rover, including the sounds recorded as it plummeted through the Martian atmosphere on its way to landing in Utopia Planitia. The CNSA also released sounds of the rover driving off the landing platform.

Continue reading “China Releases Sound and Video of its Rover Landing”

New Photos and Video Shows China’s Zhurong Rover on the Move

New images from orbit and from Mars’ surface show the Zhurong rover on the move. China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) released new pictures and video this week, and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has followed the rover’s movements from above.

The image above shows wheel tracks left behind by the Zhurong rover.

Continue reading “New Photos and Video Shows China’s Zhurong Rover on the Move”

China Launches the Core Module of Its New Space Station

Early on Thursday, a Long March 5B rocket – currently the most powerful of China’s space launch vehicles – blasted off from Wenchang, carrying the first major component of an ambitious new modular space station.

The station module, dubbed Tianhe (Harmony of the Heavens), marks the next big step in China’s human spaceflight program in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Barred from participating in the International Space Station (ISS) by US law, which forbids cooperation in space between the two countries, China has been developing its own LEO capabilities for over a decade now.

Continue reading “China Launches the Core Module of Its New Space Station”

China’s Super-Heavy Lift Rocket Will Carry 100 Tons to the Moon

China’s proposed next-generation rocket reached the final stage of feasibility studies this month. The planned launch vehicle, known as the Long March-9, will be capable of sending 100 tons to the Moon, and could see its first launch as early as 2030.

Announced in 2018, the Long March-9 will play a key role in China’s long-term space ambitions. If all goes as planned, its first payload is likely to be a Martian sample return mission, and it would support China’s Lunar ambitions as well. Another proposed use for the super-heavy lift vehicle is to build an experimental space-based solar power station, although plans for that project are still very tentative.

Continue reading “China’s Super-Heavy Lift Rocket Will Carry 100 Tons to the Moon”

Chang’e-5 Brought Home 1.7 Kilograms of Lunar Samples

China’s Chang’e-5 lunar lander retrieved about 1.7 kilograms (3.81 pounds) of samples from the Moon, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).  The Chang’e-5 sample return capsule landed in China’s Inner Mongolia region on December 16, 2020, successfully capping a 23-day odyssey that brought back the first lunar rocks since 1976.

Continue reading “Chang’e-5 Brought Home 1.7 Kilograms of Lunar Samples”

Chinese Spacecraft Dock in Lunar Orbit for Transfer of Moon Samples – Next Stop, Earth!

Two robotic Chinese spacecraft have docked in lunar orbit for the first time ever, in preparation for sending samples from the Moon to Earth.

The lunar ascent module for China’s Chang’e-5 mission was captured by the metal claws of the mission’s orbiter at 5:42 a.m. Beijing time December 6th (2142 UTC December 5th), the China National Space Administration reported.

Over the half-hour that followed, a canister containing lunar material was safely transferred to the orbiter’s attached Earth-return capsule. In the days ahead, the ascent module will be jettisoned, and the orbiter will fire its thrusters to carry the return capsule back toward Earth.

If all proceeds according to plan, the orbiter will drop off the return capsule for its descent to Inner Mongolia sometime around December 16th, with the exact timing dependent on the mission team’s analysis of the required trajectory. That would mark the first return of fresh material from the Moon since the Soviet Luna 24 spacecraft accomplished the feat back in 1976.

Continue reading “Chinese Spacecraft Dock in Lunar Orbit for Transfer of Moon Samples – Next Stop, Earth!”

China’s Chang’e-5 Probe Is Off to Bring Back a Moon Sample — and NASA Hopes to See the Data

Chang'e-5 launch

China’s Chang’e-5 probe is on its way to the Moon for a mission that could bring back the first samples of lunar rocks and dirt in more than 40 years.

The 8.2-metric-ton spacecraft was sent into space from south China’s Wenchang Space Launch Center at 4:30 a.m. local time November 24th (20:30 Universal Time November 23rd) atop a Long March 5 rocket.

Continue reading “China’s Chang’e-5 Probe Is Off to Bring Back a Moon Sample — and NASA Hopes to See the Data”