Credit: CNSA

Using data gathered by the mission’s Zhurong rover, Chinese scientists revealed the relationship between the formation of geological features and water activities on Mars by conducting a comprehensive study of these geological features in the landing area: Utopian Planitia.

Chinese scientists have found hydrated minerals in platy-like rocks, a layer of “duricrust,” proving that there has been substantial liquid water activity at the landing area since the Amazonian epoch, which was about 1 billion years ago.

Lander and Zhurong Mars rover.
Credit: CNSA/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Ocean hypothesis

These results revealed the impact of wind and water activities on Mars’ geological evolution and environmental changes, and provided support for the hypothesis that there was once an ocean in the Utopian Planitia, according to the China National Space Agency (CNSA).

Also obtained were a number of scientific results on the relationship between the density of rocks on the Martian surface and the degree of surface erosion, the distribution of ions and neutral particles in the near-Mars space environment, and the gravity field of Mars.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“As liquid water activity has been found, we believe that there may have been some suitable climate conditions for the origin of life or the existence of such conditions in the past billion years on Mars,” Liu Yang, a researcher at the National Space Science Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), told China Central Television (CCTV). “These climate conditions are likely to be in a more moderate space underground.”

Raw data

The Tianwen-1 mission consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover was launched on July 23, 2020.

On May 15, 2021, the lander/rover combo touched down at the pre-selected landing area in Utopia Planitia, a vast Martian plain, marking the first time that China has landed a probe on the planet.

Credit: CNSA/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

CNSA’s Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center stated that both the orbiter and rover have completed targeted scientific exploration missions, and acquired 1,480 gigabytes of raw scientific data, the center said.

The Zhurong rover is now in hibernation mode. It is expected to be woken up at year’s end when Mars environmental conditions improve. Given a normal working condition, Zhurong will continue to travel southward to obtain more roving probe data.

A newly released video details the Tianwen-1 Mars mission findings. Go to:

https://youtu.be/HaaDrKxSkzY

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