Almost two months after arriving on Mars, the Chinese rover Zhurong rediscovered the equipment used during the landing on the Red Planet. Last Monday (12), he recorded photos of the material while traveling through Utopia Planitia.
In the images, it is possible to see the parachute and the heat shield used by him on the descent. The first made it possible to reduce the speed of the spacecraft as it approached the Martian ground, while the second protected the module from extreme temperatures.
The material was found about 350 meters away from the mission’s landing site in May, according to the National Space Administration of China (CNSA). Zhurong was passing approximately 30 meters from the equipment when it took the photos with its navigation camera.
This is not the first time that a rover has rediscovered the safety materials used during the journey between orbit and the Martian ground. A year after arriving, in 2004, Opportunity saw the remains of its heat shield, which split into two parts after impact, according to NASA.
Studying Martian Geology
A member of the Tianwen-1 mission, launched in July 2020, the Chinese rover arrived at the Red Planet a week before the Perseverance, by the American space agency. After separating from the orbiter, it began descent procedures, making China the second country to successfully land on Mars.
With work expected to last at least 90 Martian days (93 Earth days), Zhurong studies Martian geology and topography. It carries six scientific instruments, including a ground-penetrating radar, a weather station, and a laser-induced decomposition spectroscopy device.
The data collected by it is sent once a day to the probe in orbit, which relays the information to the team on Earth.