The Zhuzhong, a self-propelled vehicle developed in China for the exploration of Mars, made its first trip: it drove off the lander and rolled lightly on the surface.
The device weighs 240 kg, six different instruments are mounted on it: for studying the Martian soil and atmosphere, as well as a topographic camera. It runs on solar energy and has an estimated running time of 90 days. To prevent dust storms from interfering with the device from receiving solar energy, the panels are made of a special repulsive material; any vibration of the rover body will shake dust off the panels.
Chzhuzhong is named after the Chinese god of fire, while Mars is named after the Roman god of war.
The rover has as its task to search for signs of ancient Martian life, primarily water, both directly on the surface of the planet and below the surface. The tool for this is a special radar capable of “shining through” the ground. Zhurong is programmed to make extremely short interval trips – 10 meters every three days. The sluggishness of the rover is explained by its creators as follows: it is not known what awaits it there, so they decided to approach its programming as conservatively as possible. For example, night temperatures on Mars drop below minus 130 degrees Celsius, carbon dioxide freezes, and how this will affect the movement of the device is still unclear. But if all goes well, the developers intend to increase the speed of the Chzhuzhun.
The rover is as autonomous as possible: it takes almost 40 minutes to give it a command from Earth and get an answer.
There is one technical feature that distinguishes the Chinese device from all other rovers: it can change, so to speak, clearance, rise and fall in the range of 60 cm.
In total, there are three self-propelled vehicles on Mars: in addition to Chzhuzhun, these are American Perseverance (started work this year) and Curiosity (has been on the planet since 2012).
Based on materials from the China Space Agency