Something could have gone very mistaken for China’s first-ever Mars mission.
China launched Tianwen 1 in July 2020 and the mission’s rover, named Zhurong, touched down on the Red Planet in May 2021. The duo explored Mars easily till May 2022, when Zhurong was put into hibernation, hunkering down for the cruel winter.
But the rover could not have exited hibernation as anticipated, in accordance with stories from Space News (opens in new tab), which cite reporting from the South China Morning Post (opens in new tab) (SCMP), an English-language newspaper based mostly in Hong Kong, that Zhurong was anticipated to get up in December and hasn’t referred to as house but. And concurrently, the Tianwen 1 Mars orbiter seems to be experiencing a communications glitch.
Related: China’s Mars rover Zhurong just snapped an epic self-portrait on the Red Planet (photos)
Zhurong entered hibernation in May 2022 to assist it trip out the low temperatures, dust storms and sand storms frequent in Martian winter. The rover contains a particular anti-dust coating on its solar panels, which it angled earlier than hibernating in anticipation of the storms and its subsequent emergence from hibernation.
Nevertheless, it seems one thing has gone mistaken. Unnamed sources instructed the SCMP that groups on Earth have but to obtain sign from the rover following hibernation. It’s unknown what the problem is perhaps, however an unnamed supply instructed SCMP that “most likely the sandstorms have seriously weakened Zhurong’s capacity to use its solar panels to generate power.”
There’s extra dangerous information for China’s space company: It seems that the Tianwen 1 orbiter has additionally gone quiet. The orbiter initially scouted for touchdown places for Zhurong earlier than serving as a communications relay for the rover. Since then, the Tianwen 1 orbiter has been finishing up its personal science program, together with surveying and mapping the Red Planet.
“A Beijing-based source said ground control had encountered difficulty when downloading the latest data from the orbiting probe, which is equipped with two cameras,” South China Morning Post wrote. Amateur radio operators have even noticed that Tianwen 1 floor stations seem to have stopped attempting to make contact (opens in new tab) with the orbiter.
China’s space company has but to touch upon the problems with Zhurong and Tianwen 1.
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