China releases first sounds of Zhurong’s Mars mission

The Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has released the first sounds and new video recorded by its Mars rover, Zhurong, as part of its Tianwen-1 mission.

The 240-kilogram Zhurong rover landed on the surface of Mars on 14 May, and CNSA previously released footage of its descent. The newly released audio reveals the noises that accompanied the descent.

The alien-like sounds were made by metal-on-metal interactions of a rack-and pinion-system, which were recorded by the climate station attached to Zhurong. The station will capture sounds of Martian winds to help researchers learn about the planet’s weather.

“With the files we released this time, including those sounds recorded when our Mars rover left the lander, we are able to conduct in-depth analysis to the environment and condition of Mars – for example, the density of the atmosphere on the Mars,” Liu Jizhong, deputy commander of China’s first Mars exploration program, told Chinese media (CCTV).

The CNAS also released footage of Zhurong moving around near its landing vehicle before making a turn. This was recorded on a remote wifi camera used by Zhurong to take its first selfie.

“Zhurong Rover is more independent in its driving on Mars [compared with China’s Yutu lunar rovers],” Jia Yang, Tianwen-1’s deputy chief designer, told CCTV. “It can judge by itself whether there is a path ahead based on its own image analysis. It will make a judgment about every one meter in its driving, and move towards the target set by the ground.”

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