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Chinese Zhurong Rover Is Killing It on Mars, Exceeds Life Expectancy and Keeps Going

When news of China becoming the second nation after the United States to land a rover on Mars reached us, some were quick to slam what is otherwise a tremendous achievement for a country that is relatively new to this whole space exploration thing. And others wished the small Chinese rover all the worst, betting it won’t be long until it breaks down.
View from the Zhurong rover on Mars 7 photos
Chinese Zhurong rover on MarsImage taken during the rover's landing on MarsImage taken during the rover's landing on MarsTaken by Zhurong's front obstacle avoidance camera, the image shows the rover approaching its parachute and backshell assemblyThis image shows the tracks made by rover as its leaving the site where the parachute and backshell are locatedChinese rover snaps color picture of its parachute and backshell on Mars
When the Zhurong rover touched down on Mars on May 15, the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) said it expects the rover to survive for just three months before it dies out. For what it’s worth, it seems Mars simply loves the human-made machines that land there, and tries as much as possible to keep them alive.

For all intents and purposes, the Zhurong is now a few days past its expected demise date. But just a few days seem to be enough for the Chinese to dream about exploring Mars further, now that they’re there and have a working machine on the surface.

In the time it spent on the planet, the rover recorded according to CNSA about 10 GB of data about the planet, and covered a distance of roughly 900 meters (2,953 feet), completing all of its tasks in the process. Those numbers will likely increase, as the thing’s operators here on Earth will now point it at “an ancient coastal area of Utopia Planitia.”

Come mid-September, the rover will be put to sleep until late October “due to the anticipated disruption of its communications with Earth caused by solar electromagnetic radiation.” After that, it is expected to resume normal operations.

Since the exploration of the Red Planet began, humans landed six rovers on the planet, five of which belong to the United States. No matter how you feel about it, more nations achieving the same can do nothing but advance our common goals, which are in the mid-term the discovery of signs of life there, and in the longer term the colonization of the planet.

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