Zhang Rongqiao, chief architect of China’s Tianwen-1 Mars exploration program, unveiled more details about the rover – a 240-kilogram rover with six 30-centimeter-diameter wheels with independent drive, and mounted with butterfly-wing panels.
Zhang focused on the rover – which is aboard the Tianwen-1 currently heading to the Red Planet – during his keynote speech to mark the successful launch of the mission, at the China Space Conference held in Fuzhou, East China’s Fujian Province.
The rover has two “navigation eyes” and is capable of automatically evading obstacles, Zhang said.
Six payloads are carried by the Chinese Mars rover, he said. However, Zhang did not elaborate on the specific names of the payloads.
The program’s chief designer said the entire flight of the Tianwen-1 Mars probe will last approximately 202 days, and the probe will fly 474.4 million kilometers before reaching Mars.
China successfully launched the probe via a Long March-5 carrier rocket from Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China’s Hainan Province on July 23.
The probe mission aims to achieve orbiting, landing and roving on the Red Planet all in one go. Tianwen-1 is scheduled to land on Mars around May 2021.
As of September 11, per the latest official data by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), Tianwen-1 has travelled 137 million kilometers on its journey to Mars.
By 2049, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the country will conduct a probe mission beyond Uranus, showcasing the country’s interstellar traveling capabilities, Zhang noted.
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