China rover returns first photographs from Mars

science & space
China made history on Sunday by becoming only the second nation to land a rover on the surface of Mars.

With NASA making the process of landing rovers on Mars seem almost straight forward, it’s easy to forget that until now – America has been the only nation on Earth to actually achieve this.

With the successful touchdown of China’s Zhurong rover, however, this has now changed.

Scientists in China hope that the six-wheeled vehicle, which touched down on Utopia Planitia in the planet’s northern hemisphere, will operate on the surface for at least 90 Martian days.

It will communicate with Earth via it’s companion Tianwen-1 spacecraft up in orbit.

Weighing 240kg and looking rather a lot like NASA’s old Spirit and Opportunity rovers, Zhurong is equipped with instruments designed to analyze the chemical composition of the rocks.

It also has a radar tool capable of searching for signs of sub-surface water-ice.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, it discovers during its mission over the coming weeks.

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