After a month of hibernation, there is no sign of life from China’s robotic jeep on Mars | Sciences

A month after China’s robotic jeep Zhurong was expected to come out of hibernation, there is still no sign of life from Mars. Experts don’t want to give up hope that the rover will become active again.

China’s space agency has not yet commented on the Zurong’s situation, but state media has dismissed reports of the spacecraft’s problems as “exaggerated.” Negative coverage would be politically motivated, and would be a way to “undermine” the progress of China’s space program.

A Mars rover slid off a lander on the Red Planet on May 22, 2021. China was the first country to successfully orbit, land, and deploy a land rover on its first mission to Mars.

Severe sandstorm

But it is now feared that Zhurong did not survive the severe sandstorms because so much sand ended up on the shade sails. “It wouldn’t be surprising if the rover didn’t wake up from sleep. It’s solar-powered, and there’s a long history of solar-powered Mars landers and rovers that run out of capacity,” David Flannery, of Queensland University of Technology, told Nature. Flannery is one of the team members behind the US Mars rover Perseverance.

Other experts remain optimistic, predicting that temperatures will continue to rise and that solar cells will still be able to absorb enough sunlight. “It’s too early to say something isn’t working,” said Baptiste Scheide, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. It also participates in perseverance.

However, the fact that China’s space program has not spoken out publicly is “strange,” says an employee of Zhurong’s team, who wished to remain anonymous.

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It is still successful

The Chinese mission is already considered a success, as all planned projects have been implemented. The rover traversed the surface of Mars for nearly two kilometers to collect many scientific discoveries, found traces of past water deposits and has been operating for three months longer than planned.

China is the third country to successfully land a spacecraft on the Red Planet. Previously, only the Soviet Union and the United States succeeded. Only Americans have also succeeded in piloting a rover on Mars.

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