China's first Mars Rover has captured the first sounds of Mars and beam back amazing views of a drive through the dusty planet.
China's CCTV news channel released a new video today (June 27,) that shows Zhurong making the first sounds as it drives off its Tianwen-1 Lander and onto the Martian surface. The video also features stunning footage of Zhurong driving to Mars, which was captured using images taken by a small camera attached to the rover.
According to CCTV translation, Jia Yang, Tianwen-1 chief designer and deputy chief designer of Tianwen-1, stated that the sounds were actually made by the Mars Rover's pinion rotating on the rack. The purpose of the recording device was to record the wind sounds on Mars in windy weather conditions. We want to hear what the winds sound like on another planet.
Related: Photos of China's Tianwen-1 Mars Mission in China
China's Mars Rover Zhurong poses with its lander in this photo by Utopia Planitia, June 11, 2021. CNSA image credit
China's Zhurong Rover is the core of its Tianwen-1 mission. This mission delivered an orbiter as well as the rover to Mars this year. The spacecraft was launched in July 2020, and reached orbit around Mars in February. Zhurong, the Mars rover, landed on Utopia Planitia's plains on May 14. Six science payloads are being used by the Mars rover Zhurong to study the Red Planet. This includes its microphone.
"With the [video-, image, and audio] files that we released this time (including those sounds recorded by our Mars rover leaving the lander), we can conduct in-depth analyses to the environment and conditions of Mars," Liu Jizhong said in the CCTV interview. He was the deputy commander of China’s first Mars exploration program.
Another video, also released today, shows stunning views from the Tianwen-1 Lander and the Zhurong Rover itself as it drives on Mars. The video captures the parachute of the lander, the moment it separates from its parachute and views of Mars' surface as the lander approaches the ground.
Rao Wei (deputy chief designer for the Tianwen-1 probe), stated that "when we were designing, we wanted some visual states of rover, which could serve as a basis to further improve the project." According to CCTV, Rao Wei was also the deputy chief designer. "Then, we designed several components, including opening the parachute and releasing the canopy, as well as the descent.
These systems worked as expected. The Tianwen-1 lander descended as intended and found a safe landing site.
Rao stated, "According to the Telemetry, we can see the landing point is only 3 km away from our intended position." Rao stated that the landing position is generally very precise and that the control system works well.
The 530-lb. The Zhurong rover, which weighs in at 530 lb (240 kg), is expected to spend 90 days on Mars exploring the Red Planet. It has high-resolution cameras and subsurface radar, as well as a surface composition detector, magnetic field detector, and a weather monitor. The Tianwen-1 orbiter can last for a whole Martian year. That's 687 Earth-days.
Tariq Malik can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook, and Instagram.