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China’s first Mars rover will have to “hibernate” because of winter on Mars

It’s early summer, and many places are trending seasonally warm. However, China’s Zhurong rover working on Mars is about to enter a “hibernation” phase because winter on Mars is approaching. According to China’s National Space Administration, Zhurong’s environment and working area are very cold in the near future, so it will begin to enter “winter mode”.

China's first Mars rover will have to

China has succeeded with the attempt for the Zhu Rong (Zhurong) rover to land on the Martian surface for the first time in its history. Xinhua (China) confirmed, on the morning of May 15, 2021, the ship Zhu Rong weighing 240 kg, 1m85 high touched the sand dunes south of Utopia Planitia 9 minutes after entering the stellar atmosphere. Fire; and also after three months with the Tianwen 1 spacecraft in orbit of the red planet.

As of May 5 of this year, the Zhurong rover has been on the Martian surface for 347 Martian days (a day on Mars is about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth) and has traveled a total of 1,921 meters. and provides about 940GB of scientific data – a large amount of information and materials for China’s Mars exploration and research activities.

China's first Mars rover will have to

The Zhurong probe is part of the Tianwen 1 mission. The Tianwen 1 spacecraft includes an orbiting spacecraft, a lander, and the Zhurong rover. China launched Tianwen 1 from the Wenchang spacecraft launch station on Hainan Island on July 23, 2020. Its mission is to land a lander carrying a rover to the surface of Mars to collect data on groundwater sources, looking for signs of ancient life on the red planet.

The Zhurong probe is operating in the Utopia Plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars. The landing point is at nearly 26 degrees north latitude of Mars, roughly equivalent to the latitudes of Guiyang and Fuzhou in this country.

Even though the latitude is not very high, because Mars is inherently very cold, at the present time, the position where the Zhurong is standing usually has a temperature of about minus 20 degrees Celsius at noon, at night it will drop more than minus 100. poison.

So when the Martian winter officially arrives, the temperature will only drop much lower, which is not conducive to the work of the Mars rover Zhurong, and in extreme cold conditions, the stellar rover Mars is prone to problems, so the operators chose to let the Mars rover Zhurong operate in conditions of relatively low power supply. When its energy is low, it will “hibernate”, and when it has enough energy it will remain active at a low level, then resume hibernation.

China's first Mars rover will have to

In just 18 years, since the day astronaut Yang Liwei and China’s first spacecraft landed in Inner Mongolia after 21 hours in orbit, China has made great strides in the race to become a “space superpower” with the US. Other achievements China has made since then can be mentioned as China’s Chang’e spacecraft in December 2020 brought back rock samples from the Moon to Earth for study. In May 2021, China successfully sent the first three astronauts to the Tiangong space station that it was building.

The active state of Mars is actually very similar to that of Earth, with 4 seasons that change according to the time of year. However, the equatorial plane of Mars and the ecliptic plane of the sun form an angle of about 25 degrees, while the angle between the axis of the Earth and the ecliptic plane is 23.5 degrees, so when at the same a coordinate, temperature, angle of illumination between the two planets also have certain differences.

China's first Mars rover will have to

After the northern hemisphere of Mars entered winter, the sun’s light tilted and decreased, the illumination time was shortened, resulting in the ability of the solar panels on the probe to be reduced. weaken. Therefore, Zhurong’s daily work items and operating time were forced to be reduced to ensure the smooth operation of the expedition ship.

China's first Mars rover will have to

In recent years, China has repeatedly applied for patents related to space technology as the country prepares to carry out a number of future space missions.

This is practically the same as that some animals in the middle and high latitudes of our planet will hibernate in winter. The aim is to reduce energy consumption and hazard index in low temperature conditions. Animals in high Earth’s latitudes usually have 3 to 6 months of hibernation, so how long is Zhurong’s “hibernation period”?

When the Zhurong first landed on Mars, Mars’ northern hemisphere had just entered summer – a Martian year is 687 Earth days, so Zhurong’s “winter mode” will last from 4 to 5 months. It is estimated that by October this year, the lighting conditions in the northern hemisphere of Mars will improve and the temperature will increase, according to which the Zhurong probe will return to normal operations.


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