Mars is one of the most active planets in the solar system for the space research - be it NASA or CNSA, both have sent their robots there to dig out information and research facts about Mars. But the robots sent there have no easy road to travel; they face various unfavourable situations on the planet. In fact, sometimes, it even unexpectedly halts various missions. Recently, according to the Chinese media, China’s Mars rover Zhurong has entered a critical situation after a sandstorm swept over Utopia Planitia, the place on Mars where Zhurong has been travelling since China’s Martian lander Tianwen-1 landed on Mars in May last year.
Zhurong was launched on 23 July 2020 and was inserted into Martian orbit on 10 February 2021. The lander, carrying the rover, performed a successful soft-landing on Mars on 14 May 2021. This landing made China the third country to successfully soft-land a spacecraft on Mars and establish communications from the surface, after the Soviet Union and United States.
China's Mars rover was initially only supposed to last for 90 days, but that deadline passed and it continued on its extended mission to explore and analyse the surface of Mars.
When you compare the recent photos with those taken from months ago, combined with an analysis of power data of the rover's solar wings, scientists concluded that Zhurong was weathering severe dust storms on Mars. "The latest images taken by cameras onboard China's Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter show a dust storm passing over the patrol area of Zhurong," read the Chinese state-funded media report recently.
It is not new for spacecraft sent on Mars to face the Martian dust storm but this time it has claimed the life of the Chinese rover, and sent it crashing into the safe mode -- which is essentially preparing it for its long and lonely sleep on the Martian surface.
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