Like NASA which landed its fifth Martian rover in February, China’s Zhurong rover touched down on the Red Planet this year. It brought a suite of scientific instruments including a weather station, ground-penetrating radar and a laser spectroscopy device for blasting rocks apart to measure their mineral content.
It also brought a deployable Wi-Fi camera, which it left in the dust before driving off, allowing it to record itself driving down from the landing module and doing a series of maneuvers. This was the first footage of a rover driving on Mars which any nation has produced.
Audio clips of its metal wheels scraping against the disembarking ramps were also collected, which Chinese space authorities say demonstrates the characteristics of the Martian atmosphere.
“With the files we released this time, including those sounds recorded when our Mars rover left the lander, we are able to conduct in-depth analysis to the environment and condition of Mars, for example, the density of the atmosphere on the Mars,” Liu Jizhong, deputy commander of China’s first Mars exploration program, told Chinese media.
NASA’s Perseverance collected video of the Ingenuity Martian Helicopter performing a flight test, and of the dramatic parachute deployment and landing dubbed the “7 minutes of terror”. China also collected its own video of the parachute deployment and landing.
Huge Zhurong update: Here's full footage of the Zhurong rover's EDL, showing parachute deployment, backshell separation, and landing, including very cool hover during hazard avoidance phase. [CNSA/PEC] pic.twitter.com/iWUXrFKf40
— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) June 27, 2021
The solar-powered Zhurong, which was the name of an ancient Chinese fire god, has traveled 236 meters since it landed on 15th, and it continues to perform system checks before, like Perseverance from NASA, heading off in search of data.
It was landed as part of the Tianwen-1 mission, which also included a lander and an orbiter, all three of which were first of their kind for the nation. China became the world’s first nation to succeed with all three at the first go-around.