Eternal sleep: Chinese rover on Mars could not wake up after hibernation

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Martian dust prevented him

The chief designer of China’s Mars exploration program provided a long-awaited commentary on the status of China’s Zhurong rover, which has been stationary for several months now.

Mars
Mars

The rover has been powered by solar energy since May 2022 and went into hibernation in the northern hemisphere of the planet. It was expected to wake up on its own in December once conditions (lighting and temperature) improved. 

However, as December came and went, the Chinese explorers remained silent. At the same time, NASA’s MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) multifunctional automatic interplanetary station confirmed in February that the Chinese rover had remained stationary for several months.

Eternal sleep: Chinese rover on Mars could not wake up after hibernation

Now, mission chief designer Zhang Rongqiao said in an interview with China Central Television that the rover did not wake up because of Martian dust, which accumulated on the solar panels of the rover much more than expected. As a result, the rover was unable to get enough power to wake up from hibernation. 

To exit hibernation, the temperature must rise above -15 ° C, and power generation must exceed the threshold of 140 watts. With 30% more dust than expected, the rover will need the strongest level of sunlight that Mars can experience to reactivate, the chief designer said. And if the dust turns out to be 40% or more than expected, then the rover will never be able to wake up at all. 

 

 

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