NASA’s Perseverance Completes 100 Martian Days, China’s Zhurong Rover Lands Safely on Mars
Image Courtesy: JPL-CALTECH/NASA
On June 1, 2021, the Perseverance rover launched by NASA completed 100 Martian days or sols. The rover had landed on Mars on February 18 inside the Jezero Crater. Perseverance is a car-sized entity accompanied by Ingenuity, a small helicopter. A Martian day is slightly longer than an Earth day—about 24 hours and 40 minutes.
The first 100 sols of Perseverance have proved very effective. It has already sent 75,000 images from the red planet, tested all its cameras and scientific instruments, and also recorded the audio of wind blow from Mars. Ingenuity, the small helicopter accompanying the rover, documented its flight on Mars and also began travelling to its exploration zone.
Perseverance aims to continue its scientific exploration on Mars for a whole Mars year, which is equivalent to 687 days on Earth. The two main aims of the mission are to search for ancient life on the planet and to collect samples from the Martian surface and send back to Earth for further research. The exploration site of the mission, the Jezero crater is considered one of the best places for such explorations. The 45 kilometres wide crater had a big lake and a river delta, some billions of years ago.
The Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, weighing about 1.8 kilograms, performed the first flight on May 22 and it encountered the Martian air. The helicopter suffered a technical glitch that interrupted the process of flowing photos from the navigation. However, the glitch was corrected and could manage to land safely near the designated site for a touchdown.
China’s Zhurong Rover Landed Safely on Mars
Meanwhile, China too has advanced its space exploration missions. The Tianwen-1 mission, launched by by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to Mars on July 23, 2020, is aimed to study the geology and topology of the planet, sampling the Martian atmosphere, examine the indications of the presence of water in the planet. This mission comprises a robotic spacecraft that contains an orbiter, a lander, and the rover named Zhurong.
After seven months of journey, the spacecraft entered the Martian orbit on February 10, 2021. Hereafter, the probe surveyed the area to find out the safest spot where the rover could be land. This continued for three months and on May 14, the lander portion of the mission touched the Martian surface. On May 22, rover Zhurong drove onto the surface of the planet. China has thus marked itself as the third nation to make a soft landing on Mars and establishing communication from the surface after the Soviet Union and the USA.
The Chinese rover landed on Utopia Planitia, a region in the northern hemisphere of the planet.
Zhurong rover is equipped with six scientific instruments – ground-penetrating radar with a capacity of imaging about 100 metres below the surface of Mars; a surface magnetic field detector; Mars climate station including thermometre, anemometre (a device to measure wind speed and direction), and pressure sensor; Mars surface compound detector (this instrument has infrared spectroscopy and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy); multi-spectrum cameras, and navigation and topography cameras.
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