Not only does NASA have a driver on the red planet. China made his first Mars Rover landing just a few days ago and on Wednesday, the Earth Space Agency released the first images of the vehicle in a new environment.
The Chinese Zhurong driver clicked the black-and-white image below with one of its obstacle-avoidance cameras mounted in front of the vehicle. It appears to descend a ramp extending to the surface of Mars, creating a sturdy path for a six-wheeled vehicle to safely access the surface of Mars. “The driver’s forward terrain is clearly visible in the picture,” China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in the notes that accompany the images and adding that the horizon looks curved due to the camera’s wide-angle lens.
Another photo was taken with a navigation camera attached to the back of Zhurong. You can clearly see the driver’s solar panels and antenna, and the image also shows the familiar red soil and rocks of Mars.
By putting Zhurong on Mars, China’s ambitious Tianwen-1 operation has become the first to successfully set up an orbit, a skier and a driver on a single expedition. The achievement of the Chinese driver follows that the United States has become only the second country to place such a vehicle on Mars, and only the third country to land on a spacecraft on the red planet after the United States and Russia. According to the latest developments, the distant planet now has three operational drivers – NASA’s curiosity and perseverance passengers and China’s Zhurong vehicle.
Like NASA’s Perseverance driver, Zhurong explores the landscape of Mars to witness ancient life and also analyzes the planet’s environment. To do this, Rover uses on-board scientific tools that include cameras, scanners and sensors. Meanwhile, China’s orbit wants to learn more about the atmosphere and climate of Mars while also mapping the planet’s surface.
Zhurong explores the area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia. The location is about 1000 miles away Jezeron crater, where perseverance is located, so there is no chance that two newly arrived drivers will face off during their duties.