Chinese rover entered sleep mode due to dust storm

On May 18, the Chinese rover Zhurong was put into sleep mode. This is said in a statement published by the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA).

Selfie of the Zhurong rover. Source: CNSA

The decision to put the Zhurong into sleep mode was made after the Tianwen 1 spacecraft located in the areocentric orbit captured the landing of the rover. Scientists compared these images with photos from two months ago, and also analyzed data on changes in the power of the rover’s solar panels and came to the conclusion that Zhurong was covered by a powerful dust storm.

Image of the landing site of the Zhurong rover, taken on March 16, 2022. Source: CNSA
Image of the landing site of the Zhurong rover, taken on April 30, 2022. Source: CNSA

In addition, winter has begun in this region of Mars. According to the latest data, the daytime temperature at the Zhurong landing site is already dropping below – 20 °C, and the night temperature is below -100 °C. By mid-July, it will decrease even more. 

Based on a combination of these two factors, the mission management decided to put Zhurong into hibernation mode until more favorable times. It is expected that the rover will come out of “hibernation” in mid-December, after which it will resume its scientific program.

Zhurong is not the only Martian explorer suffering from dust and low temperatures. The Insight probe is in an even more difficult position. According to the latest estimates of NASA experts, due to the thick layer of dust accumulated on its solar panels, by the end of the year the device will cease to communicate with the Earth.

According to

Follow us on Twitter to get the most interesting space news in time