China’s space scientists closed a major gap with the U.S. when they landed the Zurong rover on Mars early this morning. The rover was launched from the orbiting mother ship which has been circling the red planet since February. The rover weighs 240 kg and is built to last 90 Martian sols or days (little longer than an earth day) given the thin atmosphere and high radiation.
Temperatures range from -60 degrees Celsius to -125 degrees Celsius in winter. Summer daytime it can get a little salubrious at 20 degrees Celsius but at night it can go below -70 degrees Celsius. So Zurong needs to start working fast. The landing will blur the controversy surrounding the fall of debris from a rocket motor, which put the core module of China’s first space station into orbit around the Earth.