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China resumes communications with Zhurong Mars rover

Elevation map of Zhurong location
Click for full image.

The new colonial movement: China yesterday announced that it has regained communications with its Zhurong rover, located in the Martian northern lowland plains of Utopia Planitia.

The image to the right, cropped and annotated by me to post here, is a digital terrain map created from two high resolution photos taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The black line shows the route Zhurong has traveled since landing in May.

According to [Chen Baichao, the chief designer of Zhurong], the rover has traveled more than 1,000 meters since it landed on Mars at the southern part of Utopia Planitia in May 2021. After the solar conjunction, it will head south to find mud volcanoes, which scientists are interested in, located about 10 km away.

American scientists had hoped Zhurong would head north to a much larger mud cone that was much closer. Their decision to head south to the smaller cones farther away tells us that they have given themselves a much more challenging mission. It also suggests they decided it will be easier to get Zhurong closer to a smaller cone.

Based on that 10 kilometer distance, it seems the Chinese are aiming for the cones near the bottom of the map. It took Zhurong three months to travel the distance shown. At that pace, to get to those small southern mud cones will likely take, at a minimum, about fifteen months. Though the ground is quite flat, the rover will either have to negotiate one small rise of about 15 feet, or detour to the east somewhat to find a less steep route.

It is also possible that they will instead head to the mud cone south of the large impact crater. It is also a small cone, is much nearer, and will not require them to get past that rise.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Mark

    Bob – the term at the beginning of this post “The new colonial movement” goes back to 2005 and is not very descriptive of the current reality of Space Activities. Perhaps the term could be retired at the end of 2021. I do know that BtB is your blog, so your rules; I really just wrote this to clarify my own thoughts regarding the current state of mankind’s adventure in Space.

    Here are some alternatives to consider for 2022 and the rest of the decade:

    China – “the Belt & Road for the Solar System”

    For Russia – “the Over-centralized RosCosmos”

    ESA countries (except Italy) – “the euro no-moon-shot space program”

    The U.S. may need to be in three different categories:
    one for commercial space, one for NASA Science missions, and the last for Artemis Moon Program focused missions.

    U.S. (1) – “the Commercial Space Revolution” (Can be applied to SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, Virgin Orbit, ULA, FireFly, Sierra Space, etc.)

    U.S. (2) – “the Planets & Universe in Science’s Mirror” (Perseverance, James Webb, Lucy Probe, etc.)

    U.S. (3) – For the U.S. and the other 11 countries in the Artemis Accords
    – “the Artemis Alliance Federation”

    India – we have to wait for their upcoming decision to join or not to join the Artemis Accords

    I think that covers all the nations with significant activities in Space.

  • Mark: I do not agree. My reference to my 2005 essay is to note that I predicted the arrival of many nations competing to colonize space decades ago, and that prediction is now playing out exactly as I said. The details (such as the Artemis Accords) are not important. What matters is that numerous nations want their slice of the space pie, and are jumping in aggressively to get it.

    Your list above simply lists those various efforts. My column from 2005, as well as my term, “The New Colonial Movement,” sums them up.

  • Mark

    “Writing history is a perpetual exercise in judgment.” — Cushing Strout.

    I understand your perspective. As I mentioned above, I really just wrote this to clarify my own thoughts regarding the current state of mankind’s adventure in Space.

  • Mark: Sure. Always makes senses to clarify one’s thoughts.

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