NASA images confirm that the Chinese Zhurong Mars Rover has not changed for months

This story is part of Welcome to Marsour series that explores the red planet.

Questions abounded About the status of the charismatic Chinese probe Zhurong Mars. Solar powered The rover has gone into hibernation In May 2022 due to a dust storm and cold conditions. A series of images taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that the probe has not moved since at least early September 2022.

The HiRise team participated at the University of Arizona Three different views of Zhurong Tuesday. Zhurong looks like a bluish dot of the HiRise MRO camera.

A series of three NASA MRO images from orbit show the Zhurong rover’s blue dot. The first image is from March 2022, the second is from September 2022 and the third is from February 2023.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/OR Arizona

Landscape features such as dunes and a crater are visible in the area around Mars’ Utopia Planitia. The first image is from March 11, 2022, the second is from September 8, 2022 and the last is from February 7, 2023. The rover is in the same spot in the last two images, which doesn’t bode well. horizons.

The China National Space Administration is notoriously secretive about its work, so official announcements about missions can be few and far between. CNSA has not released any current updates on Zhurong.

Zhurong arrived at Mars in May 2021 as part of the Tianwen-1 mission, which included a lander and orbiter. China has become only the second country to successfully operate a rover on Mars, which puts it in good stead with NASA’s rovers.

Mars conditions can be challenging for robotic explorers, especially those who rely on solar energy. NASA agency InSight lander And Rover Opportunity Both of them reached the end of their missions with dust covering their boards. Zhurong likely met a similar fate. Whatever happens, the rover still completed its primary mission objectives and easily exceeded its original three-month life expectancy, cementing its legacy in the history of space exploration.

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