NASA has had a string of latest successes with Mars missions, however don’t let that idiot you—half of all missions to Mars finish in failure. The Soviet Union beforehand landed a spacecraft on Mars in 1971, however communication was misplaced simply 110 seconds later. As lately as 2017, the European Area Company’s Schiaparelli lander crashed on its option to the Martian floor. China’s first try on Mars was really as a part of Russia’s 2011 Fobos-Grunt mission to discover Mars and its moon Phobos. That spacecraft failed to depart Earth’s orbit and ended up reentering Earth’s ambiance months later, main China to pursue its personal impartial mission to Mars.
Don’t count on Zhurong to match as much as, say, Perseverance. The latter weighs over one metric ton, is nuclear-powered, has 23 cameras, carries a carbon-dioxide-to-oxygen tech demonstration, can take and stow samples that might be returned to Earth someday, and even introduced a brand new helicopter to the planet. The previous is simply 240 kilograms, solar-powered, has solely carries six devices, and is just anticipated to final for 90 Martian days (although it might very nicely survive for longer).
Tianwen-1’s objective is to make use of its 13 devices (seven on the orbiter, six on the rover) to check the geology and soil mineralogy of Mars, map its water ice distribution, probe the electromagnetic and gravitational forces of the planet, and characterize its floor local weather and surroundings. Whereas the orbiter will observe and measure this stuff from a world perspective and snapping pictures right down to a 2-meter decision, Zhurong will hone in on factors of intrigue on the floor. It is going to use spectroscopy to seek out out what the soil is made from, measure magnetic fields on the bottom, and observe climate modifications like temperature and winds.
Maybe most intriguing is that Zhurong has a ground-penetrating radar that can let it peer into exercise and buildings underground 100 meters deep—10 occasions additional than Perseverance’s radar. The hope is that this instrument will be capable to detect potential reserves of water ice underground. Water sources could possibly be a crucial a part of establishing a colony on Mars someday. Utopia Planitia particularly is “a comparatively secure place to land and a attainable place to seek out water,” says Wang.