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China's Zhurong rover switches to dormant mode in severe Martian dust storm

XINHUA 徽标 XINHUA 2022/5/20 Yuan Quan
© 由 XINHUA 提供

Photo released on June 11, 2021 by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows a selfie of China's first Mars rover Zhurong with the landing platform.(CNSA/Handout via Xinhua)

BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Mars rover Zhurong has been switched to dormant mode while waiting out a dust storm on the surface of the planet, the China National Space Administration said on Friday.

The latest images taken by cameras onboard China's Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter show a dust storm passing over the patrol area of Zhurong. Scientists compared the photos taken in the last two months and analyzed recent power data of the rover's solar wings, which indicated Zhurong now braving an intense Martian dust storm.

According to the administration, the patrol area of Zhurong has entered the winter season, during which the daytime temperatures can drop below minus 20 degrees Celsius, while the night below minus 100 degrees Celsius. By mid-July, the temperatures will fall further.

To tackle the dust storms and low-temperature challenges, the Chinese rover went into dormancy on Wednesday. It is expected to wake up and resume work in December when the dust clears and Mars enters its spring season, the administration said in a statement.

Scientists will continue to use the Tianwen-1 orbiter to monitor the weather on Mars' southern hemisphere. 

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