China’s Mars Rover is Down

I know, I’m late again.

Too many things going on, taxes, moving, fishing.

I criticized China recently…and they deserved it. So, it’s only fair that I praise them when praise is due.

There have now been two countries from planet Earth that have landed rovers on Mars, and the third to make a functional landing…although the word “functional” probably needs to be stretched a bit to encompass the Russian lander in 1971.

Zhurong, the rover portion of the dual spacecraft Tianwen-1, landed at Utopia Planitia on Mars on May 15th and sent communication back indicating that it had survived. During the coming weeks, it will undergo some tests and then begin to transmit photos and the like.

Some complained that the event wasn’t televised live. While I sympathize, I frankly never expected a government like the CCP to risk a televised failure by broadcasting live…not when the likelihood of failure on a first-time landing on Mars is so hard and the CCP government so paranoid of public humiliation.

I really don’t have very much information on it other than it and the orbiter portion will work together on a fairly aggressive agenda of science for a Mars first-shot. They’ll study the environment of Mars…the air, the trace atmosphere in orbit, look for water and begin looking at the geology and composition of the planet. Sort of a scientific version of a get to know you with hugs and kisses.

I know, you want to see results now. I’m sorry. Communications with Mars is very difficult. NASA makes it look easy with their Deep Space Network, but China doesn’t have one of those. Photos take up lots of communications bandwidth.

Just follow the Twitter feed above for more. I might post the first photos here, but not much else. A lot of what they will be doing have already been done by NASA. I’m not criticizing by saying that. It is a heck of a lot more than the Russian probe was able to do. It landed and stayed online just long enough to “ouch” and then died. If China can begin to repeat NASA discoveries made on Mars, those studies can focus and further verify the work that has already been done and that does have value for the world. As they learn to get better at it, they will more than likely come up with something new that NASA hasn’t found yet, since most of Mars is still unknown.

The more eyes we have looking closely at it the better.

~ by Bill Housley on May 18, 2021.

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