China's Mars rover drives on surface a week after landing

May 22 (UPI) -- China's Mars rover drove across the planet for the first time Saturday a week after landing, the country's space agency announced.

The six-wheeled, solar-powered rover, Zhurong, named after the Chinese god of fire, drove down the ramp of its landing capsule Saturday morning, the China National Space Administration announced.


The move makes China the second country after the United States to operate a rover on Mars, CNN reported. China landed the rover on the Red Planet last week, also becoming the second country after the United States to do so, and sent back the first images from its Tianwen-1 space mission Wednesday.

The orbiter entered Mars orbit in February after launching from the island of Hainan on July 23.

RELATED European Space Agency plans network of moon satellites

Zhurong, which weighs 530 pounds, has six scientific instruments including a high-resolution topography camera and will explore Mars' surface soil and atmosphere during a 90-day mission. It will also use a ground-penetrating radar to look for signs of life, such as water and ice.


China's Mars rover is among three operating on Mars.

For the United States, NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity's mission was extended on April 30 for another 30 days, so the mini-aircraft could act as a scout for the rover Perseverance. The rover's mission is to drill for rock samples that may show signs of ancient life on Mars.

RELATED NASA moon mission delays may put astronauts in path of solar storms

Perseverance made its first drive on the Red Planet in March, capturing images of its own wheel marks in the Martian dust, according to NASA engineers.

NASA's rover, Curiosity, which landed in 2012, is the third robotic rover operating on Mars.

RELATED NASA eyes moon's dark side for astronomy, new telescopes

Dispatches from Mars: Perseverance rover sends images

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover, using its Mastcam-Z camera system, captured this view of the Martian sunset on November 9, 2021, the 257th Martian day, or sol, of the mission. Martian sunsets typically stand out for their distinctive blue color as fine dust in the atmosphere permits blue light to penetrate the atmosphere more efficiently than colors with longer wavelengths. But this sunset looks different: Less dust in the atmosphere resulted in a more muted color than average. The color has been calibrated and white-balanced to remove camera artifacts. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

Latest Headlines