Mars rover expected to be dead after officials dodge questions about its health

A Mars rover that landed on the planet in 2021 is now expected to be an expensive piece of Martian trash after officials dodge questions about its health.

Mars rover expected to be dead after officials dodge questions about its health
1 minute & 51 seconds read time

On February 10, officials celebrated the second anniversary of their first interplanetary mission that featured a new advanced rover landing on the surface of Mars.

Zhurong rover

Zhurong rover

China's Tianwen 1 had its anniversary on February 10, and a part of that mission was the landing of the Zhurong rover on the surface of the Red Planet on May 14, 2021. Unfortunately, not much has been heard about the Zhurong rover since officials announced the rover was entering a hibernation state following declining solar power availability as a result of Mars' northern hemisphere.

Reports indicate that officials expected Zhurong to wake back up sometime in December when solar power became more readily available. However, the rover, or at least China, has been strangely silent on the operations of the rover, leading some to believe that it's now a very expensive piece of Martian trash. Notably, China's state-run media posted short articles celebrating the second anniversary of the mission, with no mention of the current status of the rover, its overall health, or any new images of its location.

Technically speaking, Zhurong should automatically wake up from its slumber when its components detect temperatures have reached more than 5 degrees Fahrenheit and energy generation has reached more than 140 watts.

Mars rover expected to be dead after officials dodge questions about its health 08

As previously stated, both of these conditions were expected to be met in December, but nothing was announced from China's space agency to say Zhurong was alive and kicking. Furthermore, reports indicate that dust storms have been particularly prevalent across Utopia Planitia, the location of the rover.

Thick amounts of dust coating the rover's solar panels could have contributed to its overall silence. If this is the case, it's likely officials will have to wait until Mars' strong winds knock off that layer or until the planet's seasons bring warmer weather. Images snapped by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show the rover hasn't moved from its hibernation spot that it entered back in May.

In other science and space news, researchers are calling on NASA and other space agencies to put together a mission to explore Uranus. The researchers believe there is a lot of knowledge that can be gained by putting an orbiter in the planet's orbit and dropping a probe down into its atmosphere. A new paper details that not much is known about Uranus or ice giant planets in general. This gap in knowledge is particularly important, considering that ice giants are some of the most common planets astronomers have come across.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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