China is aggressively advancing its space programs. The country just landed a rover on Mars’ surface. It is the second country to achieve this feat. The Asian giant has now successfully tested the rover. It is named the Zhurong robot. The country’s space agency, CNSA, said that it drove Zhurong. The rover walked from its landing site to the surface. The rover started its journey from Earth to Mars in July last year. It entered into the Martian orbit in February. The lander separated from the orbiter nearly after three months and landed on May 15. This is the first time when China has landed a mission on a planet beyond Earth. It has now become the second country after the United States to operate a rover on the planet.
China said that Zhurong’s primary objective is to study the Martian surface rocks and the planet’s atmosphere. Besides, it will also search for possible signs of life. It will look for water ice or subsurface water. The rover landed at the pre-selected location. It touched down in the southern region of Utopia Planitia. It is a gigantic plain. It is located in the Red Planet’s northern hemisphere. The rover has six wheels. It weighs 240 kg and resembles a blue butterfly. China said that the rover has a lifespan of 90 days. It will, however, be expanded if instruments are found to be in a good condition to continue scientific experiments. The orbiter has already taken detailed photos, suggesting that the rover is in a good condition.
Zurong had earlier clicked photos of Mars soon after landing and sent them back. It also sent back two videos from the planet. The mission will also demonstrate technology developed by China for a future sample-return mission. China has proposed to return samples from Mars by 2030. The rover will cache rock and soil samples. The US space agency NASA was the only space agency in the world so far to land and operate multiple rovers on Mars. It landed the first rover in 1976 in Utopia Planitia and the latest one in February 2021. Its Perseverance rover landed in the Jezero crater near Mars’ equator. It will look for signs of microbial life on Mars. Russia and Europe have failed to land rovers on Mars.