China’s Mars rover Zhurong has been switched to dormant mode while waiting out a dust storm on the surface of the planet, according to the China National Space Administration.
The latest images taken by cameras onboard China’s Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter show a dust storm passing over the patrol area of Zhurong, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Zhurong rover is part of the Tianwen-1 mission which touched down in southern Utopia Planitia on Mars in May 2021.
Scientists compared the photos taken in the last two months and analysed 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 degree Celsius, while the night below minus 100 degree Celsius.
By mid-July, the temperatures will fall further.
The dusty weather and the extremely low ambient temperature in winter will lead to reduction in the power generation capacity of the solar wing.
To tackle the 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.
The orbiter is implementing remote sensing exploration of the global coverage of Mars, and the current imaging area is mainly concentrated in the high latitudes of the southern hemisphere of Mars.