The Zhurong rover has operated on the surface of Mars for over a year since it deployed on May 22nd, 2021. Before the rover suspended operations on May 20th, 2022, due to the onset of winter and the approach of seasonal sandstorms, Zhurong managed to traverse a total distance of 1.921 km (1.194 mi). During the first kilometer of this trek, the rover obtained vital data on Mars’ extremely weak magnetic fields. According to a new study by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), these readings indicate that the magnetic field is extremely weak beneath the rover’s landing site.Continue reading “Mars Lacks a Planet-Wide Magnetosphere, but it Does Have Pockets of Magnetism”
In a recent study published in National Science Review, a team of researchers led by the China University of Geosciences discuss direct evidence of an ancient ocean and its shoreline that existed in the northern hemisphere of Mars during the Hesperian Period, or more than 3 billion years ago. This finding is based on data collected by the China National Space Agency’s (CNSA) Zhurong rover in the Vastitas Borealis Formation (VBF), which lies within southern Utopia Planitia on Mars.Continue reading “China’s Rover Found Evidence of an Ancient Ocean on Mars”
The surface of Mars is a pretty desolate place at first glance. The soil is many times as dry as the driest desert on planet Earth, the temperatures swing from one extreme to the other, and the air is incredibly thin and toxic. And yet, there’s ample evidence that the planet was once much warmer and wetter, with lots of flowing and standing water on its surface. Over time, as Mars’ atmosphere was slowly stripped away, much of this water was lost to space, and what remains is largely concentrated around the poles as glacial ice and permafrost.
For years, space agencies have been sending robotic landers, rovers, orbiters, and aerial vehicles to Mars to learn more about when this transition took and how long it took. According to China’s Tianwen-1 mission, which includes the Zhurong rover, there may have been liquid water on the Martian surface later than previously thought. According to new research from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the Zhurong rover observed salt-rich dunes in the Utopia Planitia region that showed cracks and crusts, indicating the possible presence of water as recently as a few hundred thousand years ago.Continue reading “China's Mars Rover Finds Recent Evidence of Water Near the Equator”
The Zhurong Rover has sat unmoving and unresponsive on Mars since May 20th, 2022, when one of the planet’s infamous dust storms forced the science team to switch the rover to hibernation mode. It was expected to wake in late December, but has yet to show any signs of activity. Last week, the Rover’s chief designer, Zhang Rongqiao, offered an update on the rover’s status.Continue reading “China Finally Tells us What's Going on With its Mars Rover”
The ongoing effort to under Martian geology and the planet’s history continues. A recent paper from a scientific team in China looks at the data collected by Zhurong, a rover that has been in place on the Red Planet since 2021. While it didn’t find any evidence of water in the basin it was looking in, it did find some interesting buried features and provided more data to our mounting understanding of one of our nearest neighbors.Continue reading “China’s Rover Used Radar to Look Deep Beneath the Surface of Mars. What Did it Find?”
China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) has been hoping to reestablish communications with the Zhurong Mars rover, but so far, their efforts have been unsuccessful. Zhurong was put into hibernation over six months ago as it hunkered down in attempts to survive the Martian winter.Continue reading “China Unable to Reestablish Contact With its Zhurong Mars Rover”
Mars exploration has been ongoing for decades at this point, and some regions of the planet have become more interesting than others. Of particular interest is a basin known as Utopia Planitia. It was the site of the Viking-2 landing, one of the first-ever successful missions to Mars. From data collected during that mission, scientists developed a theory that the crater that formed Utopia might have been the site of an ancient ocean. New results from China’s Zhurong rover point to an even more exciting past – repeated flooding.Continue reading “China’s Zhurong Rover Looks Deep Underground and Sees Layers From Multiple Floods on Mars”
Two Lego designers with a history of space-themed projects have teamed up for a new proposed set: China’s Long March CZ-5 and Tianwen-1 Mission. The set is currently gathering supporters on the LEGO Ideas website. If it gets enough support, LEGO will review it and possibly create it.Continue reading “A new LEGO Spacecraft to Vote for: China's Long March 5 With the Tianwen-1 That Flew to Mars”
China’s Tianwen-1 lander and Zhurong rover touched down on the Martian plain Utopia Planitia on May 14, 2021 after spending about three months orbiting the Red Planet. While the Chinese Space Agency has shared images of the rover and lander (including a cute family portrait taken by a wireless remote camera), NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been following the rover’s travels from above.Continue reading “Mars Orbiter Captures Images of China’s Rover From Space”
Billions of years ago, Mars was a much different place than it is today. During the same period when life was first emerging on Earth, Mars had a thicker atmosphere, warmer surface temperatures, and flowing water on its surface. Evidence of this warmer, wetter past is preserved on the planet’s surface today in the form of river channels, lakebeds, alluvial fans, and sedimentary deposits. When this period began, and how long it lasted, remains the subject of much debate for scientists.
Knowing how long this period lasted helps establish how big the window of opportunity was for life on Mars. But according to new NASA-funded research from the Sellers Exoplanet Environments Collaboration (SEEC), Mars may have been wetter longer than previously expected. According to recently published results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mars may have had a northern ocean as recent as three billion years ago.Continue reading “Mars Could Have Been wet for Much Longer Than Previously Believed”