The diminutive Zhurong rover is China’s first rover to land on and explore the surface of Mars, and it has been looking around its landing area in Utopia Planitia since it was deployed onto the surface last month.
Now, as reported by SpaceNews, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has shared video and audio footage of the rover in action, showing parts of the landing process and clips of the rover moving around on Mars. The agency posted the video footage on its website along with an update on the rover’s progress.
The footage includes the rover being deployed on the Mars surface. A lander carried the rover through the atmosphere, then the rover rolled down a ramp so it could move freely around the environment.
Later, the rover left a wireless camera on the ground and filmed itself driving away. The rover then performed a turning maneuver which was also captured. The driving footage includes audio which was captured by an instrument designed to measure the Martian winds. “The audio includes live sounds during the process of turning on the driving mechanism of the rover, driving on a ramp, and driving onto the surface of Mars,” CNSA wrote. “The sound of the rover moving away mainly comes from the driving mechanism, friction between wheels and ramps, and friction between wheels and the ground.”
Further video footage shows the lander’s entry, descent, and landing phase including the deployment of the parachute and the lander moves through the thin Martian atmosphere and the separation of the shell which protects the lander and rover during the process.
Huge Zhurong update: Here's full footage of the Zhurong rover's EDL, showing parachute deployment, backshell separation, and landing, including very cool hover during hazard avoidance phase. [CNSA/PEC] pic.twitter.com/iWUXrFKf40
— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) June 27, 2021
CNSA also released an image captured by the rover, showing its tracks in the martian regolith as it explores Utopia Planitia. The agency says the rover has traveled 236 meters so far over 42 martian days since its deployment onto the surface. It also reports that both the rover and the orbiter and in good condition and that communications with Earth are stable.
The rover will now continue its exploration of Mars, looking for indications of subsurface ice as well as recording information about the martian weather and other topics. The mission is projected to last for 90 Mars days.
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