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On Mars, the disturbing silence of the Chinese robot Zhurong

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What happened to Zhurong? The Chinese robot has landed on Mars and is no longer responding. The first non-American spacecraft to perform a mission on the surface of the Red Planet has gone into hibernation to face winter. But since the supposed date of his awakening, he has not given any sign of life.

As on Earth, Mars goes through seasonal cycles. Except that on the Red Planet, winter lasts twice as long. And who says winter says less sun, which is annoying when it comes to a rover that needs to recharge its batteries.

That is why in May 2022, the Chinese space agency CNSA asked Zhurong to go into hibernation. Admittedly, it’s not running anymore, but it’s not expending any energy to warm up and face the prevailing -60 degrees.

Seven months later, at the end of December, sunshine and temperature conditions should have caused the device to wake up automatically. But since then, the radio has gone silent, the sleep has continued. It’s hard to know more: the Chinese authorities are not communicating but the continuation of the mission appears to be at risk.

in spite of that, Still a resounding success. Scheduled to operate for 92 days, it lasted more than a year and made it especially possible to find traces of past floods in the landing area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe vast Martian plain of Utopia Planitia.

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