China is silent. The fate of China’s dormant rover remains unknown
The first Chinese interplanetary spacecraft Tianwen-1 reached Mars on February 10, 2021. It consisted of an orbiter and a lander, which was brought to the surface of Mars in May of the same year by the Zhurong rover. This mission is already two years old, but against the backdrop of this event, China still has not provided any information about what happened to the rover, which has not shown “signs of life” for two months and what condition it is in now.
China’s Zhurong rover went into sleep mode last May as the amount of sunlight needed to power its batteries decreased. This was due to the arrival of winter in the northern hemisphere of Mars.
The Zhurong rover was supposed to come out of “winter hibernation” as early as the 20th of December 2022, but this did not happen and no signals were received from the device after a couple of weeks. The initial speculation, which was voiced by Chinese scientists on condition of anonymity, was that the rover might not survive the season of severe dust storms on Mars. That is, its solar panels could be covered with a thick layer of dust, which means that the batteries did not receive enough solar energy for the device to wake up from the “sleep” mode. In early January of this year, there was no official information from China about the state of the rover.