September 24, 2021

The Pulse

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Historical Chinese ride on Mars – VG

Photo taken before China’s Mars rover rolls over the planet’s surface. Photo: Chinese Officers / AP / NTB

The Chinese spacecraft Jurang has begun orbiting a volcanic plain on Mars.

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Chinese space officials say the vehicle rolled off the landing ship on Saturday night, Norwegian time.

Jurong is named after a Chinese fire god. The vehicle, which looks for signs of past life on the Red Planet, is a 90-day project.

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Rock samples are analyzed and geological data are collected. Using radar, Jurong will investigate whether there is ice or groundwater.

The vehicle weighs 240 kg, has six wheels and is powered by solar panels.

Chinese vehicle Jurang has sent home this image of a Chinese landing craft on Mars. Photo: Chinese Space Officers / AP / NTB

The Soviets failed

Previously, only vehicles on Mars in the United States – called rovers. Two of them are still in operation: Perseverance, which landed earlier this year, and Curiosity, which have been around since 2012.

The Soviet Union landed a vehicle on Mars in 1971, but soon lost contact with it.

Last weekend, China was able to land a ship on Mars for the first time. The large spacecraft Tianwen-1 entered orbit around the planet a few months ago.

The landing and launch of the rover Jurong is considered an important milestone in the Chinese space program.

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Heavenly Reconciliation

China has strengthened its focus on space travel in recent years, and in 2019 became the first country to conduct space exploration behind the moon.

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Last month, China unveiled the first part of what will be the new space station orbiting the Earth. The volume is titled “Heavenly Harmony”.

However, there was a definite malfunction when the rocket carrying the module hit the ground again. Western scientists feared that rocket parts could cause damage in populated areas, but they were wrecked across the Indian Ocean.

Zhang Rongkiao (right), one of the leaders of the Chinese Mars mission, spoke with other leaders of the Chinese space program in Beijing on Saturday. Photo: Jin Liang / Xinhua / AB / NDP

Mini helicopter

On Mars, Jurong orbits the volcanic plain of Utopia Planetia. The American spacecraft Viking 2 landed in the same area in 1976.

Earlier this year, the United States diligently brought a mini-helicopter to Mars. The Norwegian Howard for Griff, who works at NASA, plays a key role in this project. The drone has developed several short aircraft.

It is difficult for the spacecraft to land on Mars, and many previous attempts have failed. In 2016, the Russian-European joint venture crashed.