China’s Zhurong rover prepares for first wintering on the Red Planet

(ORDO NEWS) — China’s Zhurong rover is adjusting to its first winter on the Red Planet, while its satellite orbiter continues to map the harsh world from above.

Zhurong, part of China’s Tianwen-1 mission, has been operating in the vast Utopia Planitia basin for 347 Martian days or sols, covering 1,921 meters on the planet’s surface, according to information released on May 6 by the Chinese Mars Exploration Program.

However, the rover is currently receiving less power from the Sun as it is winter in the northern hemisphere of Mars.

To compensate, the Zhurong engineering team adjusted the angle of the solar panels to maximize the Sun’s exposure and reduced the spacecraft’s run time to control power consumption.

Zhurong has an automatic sleep mode that turns on if the energy level falls below a predetermined level, inducing hibernation until environmental conditions improve. The coldest period for Zhurong is expected to come in July.

Meanwhile, in orbit, the Tianwen-1 spacecraft that carried Zhurong on a seven-month journey from Earth to Mars continues its work from above. During this work, stunning images of the Red Planet were obtained.

Tianwen-1 initially operated primarily as a relay satellite for Zhurong operations, but then focused on its own scientific missions.

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