Mars - A Planet Of Robots


Tianwen 1 Lands

From its launch through its journey to Mars China`s spacecraft combination has been called Tianwen 1. Now the lander and astromobile or rover have been named; lander is called Tianwen 1 while the rover has been given the name Zhurong.

Tianwen 1 has been orbiting Mars since February 10. 2021, since then it has been making a detailed reconnaissance of the landing sites for the best place to land. High resolution images of the Utopia Planitia were studied before the landing was attempted. The entry capsule was released on May 14. 2021 from the orbiter for its nine minute journey through the atmosphere. When the descent speed was low enough, the protective aeroshell separated and the lander used its propulsion system to cancel the residual speed and to gently land on the surface. China was the third country to do so after the Soviet Union and the United States.

Animation image of the Tianwen 1 landing

Tianwen 1 stamp

After a week of checking out of the systems of the lander and rover, the rover rolled off its ramps on the lander onto the Martian surface. On May 22 Zhurong then began its initial 90 Mars day (equal to 92 Earth days) exploration. It will study the local area, its climate, magnetic fields and the Martian soil.

Zhruong rolling off the lander ramps

Zhurong on the Martian surface

The Mars rover in the Tianwen 1 mission has been named `Zhurong` after an ancient fire god. It was the most popular name from a shortlist of 10 in a public vote and it was then approved. Huoxing is the Chinese name for Mars which means `fire star` so Zhurong fitted in well. Zhurong was said to be the son of Gaoyang, a sky god and Zhurong was said to be the ancestor to the eight lineages of the royal families of the Chu state.

Zhurong riding two dragons as depicted in the Classic of Mountains and Seas

The Zhurong rover has the Chinese character for `fire`, Mars translates in Chinese as `fire star`, etched onto its mastcam head. The character is from the 13th century that was found in the northern China region of the Jin Kingdom.

The Zhurong rover placed a remote camera 33ft (10 m )away from the lander before moving back nearer to the lander for a family selfie.

 As well as the Chinese flags on the orbiter and lander, the lander also has the outlines of the mascots for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic and Paralympics.

 Zhurong weighs 530 lbs (240 kg) and is solar powered. It has both panoramic and multispectral cameras as well as a suite of instruments to analyse the composition of rock. It carries a ground imaging radar to study the subsurface of Mars.

 The Tianwen 1 orbiter will continue to serve as a telecommunications relay during the rovers primary mission while itself making its own observations of the planet below.

Chinese character stamp `fire`

Zhurong masthead

Camera placed on the Martian surface takes image of both craft

The lander taken from the rover

China space day 2021 poster showing the Tianwen 1 spacecraft

Tianwen 1 Mars poster

Launch cover of Tianwen-1 and Zhurong lander

Launch cover showing the Zhurong rover