China’s Zhurong Rover Discovers Evidence of Liquid Water on Mars

China's Zhurong Mars rover has made a significant discovery, indicating that liquid water may have been present on Mars more recently than previously thought. The discovery was made by a team that reviewed data from the rover's cameras, with evidence suggesting that liquid water could exist on present-day Mars. However, the rover has since been dormant due to dust accumulation, which has affected its ability to generate power. The rover's chief designer, Zhang Rongqiao, explained that when the accumulation of Martian dust on the solar panels reaches 40%, it may not wake up again. Despite the rover's current status, it has collected a wealth of data, allowing scientists to glean important information about Mars.[0]

In July 2020, Zhurong was launched as a part of China's maiden interplanetary expedition, Tianwen-1.[1] The rover landed on the Red Planet in May 2021 and spent a year touring its surface.[1] While the rover's future remains uncertain, the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) plans to launch its next Mars mission, Tianwen 3, in 2028.[2] If successful, it will be two to three years earlier than NASA's Mars Sample Return campaign, which will bring rock samples to Earth in 2033.[3]

The discovery of liquid water on Mars has only increased hopes that it might be found on the planet in the future. Based on the age of the dunes, scientists believe that the transfer of water vapor from the polar ice sheet toward the equator during the large obliquity stages of Mars's late Amazonian period led to repeated humid environments at low latitudes.[4] A theory has been suggested that cooling in Mars' low latitudes during periods of large obliquity causes frost and snow to accumulate, resulting in the formation of crusts and aggregates on the salty dune surface. This solidifies the dunes and leaves evidence of liquid saline water activity.[5]

NASA's Curiosity and Perseverance rovers remain active on Mars. Since its landing in 2012, Curiosity has been operational on the planet for over ten years and has covered a distance of 29.27 kilometers.[3] InSight, another NASA lander, failed to respond to two messages from mission control and was forced into early retirement after spending nearly 1,500 days on Mars.[6] The success of NASA's rovers is a testament to their ability to withstand the risks that the Martian environment poses.

The discovery made by China's Zhurong Mars rover adds to the growing body of knowledge about the Red Planet.[4] Although the rover remains dormant, its findings are significant and may pave the way for future exploration of Mars. With NASA and China both planning future missions to the planet, it is clear that there is still much to be learned about our neighboring planet.

0. “China's Mars Zhurong rover could be dead, but its legacy will live on” Interesting Engineering, 28 Apr. 2023,

1. “China's Mars Rover Likely Felled By Sand and Dust” ExtremeTech, 26 Apr. 2023,

2. “China sets 2030 as date for Martian sample mission” China Daily, 25 Apr. 2023,

3. “China's first Mars rover may sleep forever” Asia Times, 28 Apr. 2023,

4. “Rover Spots Possible Evidence of Liquid Water on Modern Mars” Gizmodo, 28 Apr. 2023,

5. “Tianwen-1: Zhurong rover finds evidence of water at low latitudes on modern Mars”, 28 Apr. 2023,

6. “China finally admits its hibernating Mars rover may never wake up”, 27 Apr. 2023,

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