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Chinese Zhurong Rover Marks 100 Days of Exploring Mars

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
September 2, 2021
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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.

Named after an ancient god of fire from Chinese mythology, the 1.85-meter-tall and 240-kilogram Zhurong Mars is in good shape with sufficient power and it will keep its effective momentum to travel further south to a shoreline of an ancient “ocean” to obtain scientific data.

Some 392 million kilometers away from Earth, orbiter of Tianwen-1 has circled the Red Planet for 403 days, adding that a high-definition camera onboard the craft has taken a picture of Zhurong’s landing area in which the travelling track of the rover could be clearly seen.

By mid-to-late September, Earth and Mars will be on opposite sides of the sun, and the three could be almost in a straight line. The probe will enter the solar transit phase.

Zhurong’s course over the first 100 days on Mars. (Credit: CNSA)

During the transit, the ground-space communication will be cut off due to electromagnetic radiation interference, forcing the orbiter and rover into a safety mode and halt their probe work. And when the phase comes to an end, the orbiter will enter the remote sensing mission orbit at a suitable timing to carry out global remote sensing exploration of Mars, and also relay communication of the Mars rover expansion mission stage.

On Monday, to celebrate the success of the country’s first Mars probe mission which accomplished landing, orbiting and roving all in one go, the first time in human history, the CNSA and The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) jointly released three commemorative coins in gold and silver.

Gold coins commemorating Tianwen-1 and Zhurong. (Credit: CNSA)

The new series of Tianwen-1 coins have two types in gold weighing 250 grams and 8 grams and one in silver weighing 30 grams. The back of the coins shows the logo of China’s deep space exploration programs while the key stage of landing, orbiting and roving during the Tianwen-1 mission and Zhurong rover, as well as the Tianwen-1 probe complex are seen on the fronts.

It is the seventh edition of space-themed commemorative coins. The previous ones include those on the first manned space mission, first successful lunar probe and first spacewalk.

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