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Why no visual confirmation of the landing on Mars of China’s Zhurong rover?

Despite more than 48 hours having passed since China announced the successful landing of its Zhurong rover on Mars in the northern lowland plain of Utopia Planitia, no images or data of any kind has been released by that nation or its space agency.

It is very possible that this is totally expected, since they have always said they will need about a week of checkouts before they rollled the rover off the lander and begin its operations.

At the same time, China has been very very creative with providing early images for all its planetary missions. For example, within hours of landing they had released images from their Chang’e-5 lunar sample return lander. Similarly, only hours after Chang’e-4 landed on the far side of the Moon with its Yutu-2 rover China released images.

They did the exact same thing when Chang’e-3 landed in 2013 with its Yutu-1 rover.

I can’t imagine they don’t have some cameras on the Mars lander to snap pictures of the horizon or the ground directly below. They might not, but if so the lack would be truly astonishing.

It is also possible China is holding the data close for any number of political reasons, though this doesn’t make much sense since the whole political point of these planetary missions is to sell China to the world.

The more time that passes with no confirmation data, the more it will appear that something is wrong. If this conclusion is incorrect, China needs to act now to dispel these doubts.

Conscious Choice cover

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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.


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  • Jim Davis

    For example, within hours of landing they had released images from their Chang’e-5 lunar sample return lander. Similarly, only hours after Chang’e-4 landed on the far side of the Moon with its Yutu-2 rover China released images.

    I think the time delays involved with communicating with Mars accounts for the differences between lunar landers and Martian landers. Things are going to take longer for the latter.

  • Jake V

    Is it not possible for us to monitor the rover’s transmissions back to earth? Or do we not have the ability to decode them?

  • Diane Wilson

    Excessive lithobraking, perhaps? More likely, heat damage, or landed on a rock.

    While the Soviets (and only the Soviets) had successful landings on Venus, their only Mars lander to survive re-entry transmitted 20 seconds of video noise, then went silent. So not a successful mission.

  • Diane Wilson

    Jim, time delay to Mars is never more than about 20 minutes. That wouldn’t account for days of delay.

    Jake, if we know the frequencies in use, we could at least detect a signal. I don’t know that anyone outside of China would dedicate resources to looking for that.

  • Mark

    Maybe the Chinese Communist party did not steal enough technology to successfully land on Mars. Our government has documented space technology theft by the Chinese. In December 2018 the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged Chinese nationals with being part of a decade-long, government-sponsored global hacking campaign that included the alleged theft of information from 45 US tech companies and government agencies, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Goddard Space Flight Center.

  • Diane Wilson: A ham has picked up signals from Tianwen-1, so it can be done. See this post.

  • Lee Stevenson

    Bob.. quote. “China needs to act now to dispel these doubts.”… The thing is, they don’t. They don’t need to appease any local or international media… Because it’s China. I have no idea if the current blackout is because of a failure, or perhaps a very clever waiting game, designed to drum up public interest. Time will shortly reveal.

  • wayne

    Capricorn One (1978)
    –Faked Mars Landing Scene-

  • Jay

    I was watching or should I say listened to the landing from AMSAT-DL feed on Youtube. They did not hear anything after the scheduled landing. A little over an hour later, forums and twitter feeds confirmed that they landed. No pictures. I too wondered if it landed hard or landed sideways.

    As of today (Monday), the Chinese feeds are saying that the high gain antennas will be deployed tomorrow. Kind of a long time to deploy unless they are fixing a problem.

  • pzatchok

    How much information have they released to the Chinese public?

    If the general public doesn’t even know about the landing they do not have to say anything.
    If all they have said is that they have made a Mars landing and gave no expectations, then the general public will accept anything the government tells them.

  • Jay

    They announced it on the CCTV-13 (their version of CNN, but not as radical leftist as CNN) two to three hours after the landing. That’s about it. Still nothing as of today.

  • pzatchok

    They announced that they landed.

    But no follow up? Not taking the opportunity to one up the rest of the world?

    Days to deploy a second antenna? That sounds like an excuse to keep their hope alive that the thing didn’t plow into Mars,

  • @Diane Wilson:

    “Excessive lithobraking, perhaps?”

    Had not heard that version, and engineers can be imaginative in describing unplanned events (because it’s not your design that failed, is it?).

    Regarding the Venus landings: the fact that a Soviet (Russian) craft softly landed and survived long enough to take and transmit pictures has always impressed me. Would very much like to see the Americans take a crack at it.

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