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China's Mars rover outlasts its life expectancy, keeps on going

The more Mars rovers, the merrier.

Hello, Zhurong rover and Tianwen-1 lander. This selfie comes from a remote camera set on the surface of Mars.

NASA's Perseverance and Curiosity rovers may be Mars stars, but there's another rover traversing the red planet: China's Zhurong. Zhurong was designed for a three-month mission. This week, the China National Space Administration announced the plucky rover has outlived its life expectancy and completed all of the tasks it set out to do.

This isn't the end of the line for the solar-powered vehicle. It's earned "an extended expedition toward an ancient coastal area."

Zhurong arrived in May, making China only the second nation to send a rover across Mars. The rover is one component of the CNSA's Tianwen-1 mission, which also involves a lander and an orbiter. Zhurong has been investigating Utopia Planitia, a plains region visited by NASA's Viking 2 mission in the 1970s. 

The rover has covered almost 3,000 feet (900 meters), collecting data, snapping images and leaving wheel tracks along the way. 

Zhurong is scheduled to take a break from mid-September to late October due to an expected communications disruption. This happens from time to time as the sun gets in between Earth and Mars. The mission will resume after that.

There's plenty of science to go around at Mars, especially since the three active rovers on the planet are all investigating very different areas. Go forth, Zhurong. 

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