It’s a very good time to be a taikonaut. China’s space program has gone from a standing start to a gallop, with the Zhurong Mars rover performing admirably for the country’s first Mars exploration robot.
Say ‘Zhurong’ to Mars
Huge Zhurong update: Here's full footage of the Zhurong rover's EDL, showing parachute deployment, backshell separation, and landing, including very cool hover during hazard avoidance phase. [CNSA/PEC] pic.twitter.com/iWUXrFKf40
— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) June 27, 2021
The folks at NASA might be able to get away with a live-stream but they’ve had practice. China’s rover actually captured video of the descent to Mars, including a spectacular shot of the parachute unfurling with the sun in the background (which you can see in the tweet above). Further down the thread is footage of the rover placing the camera it used for its selfie, and a couple of interesting new shots of the Mars surfaces.
And then there’s audio of the rover’s landing stage deploying Zhurong on to the planet’s surface. You can listen to it here, but don’t go into it expecting much. It sounds like what you’d get it you stuck a smartphone out of a speeding car and recorded the noises whipping by while driving a Tesla on a deserted highway. It only really becomes cool when you realise that you’re hearing these noises being made on another world in another atmosphere.
There’s not too much of a point to these media releases, beyond making us go ‘damn, that’s cool.’ But it is exploration of a whole new planet. It’s always going to be cool.