Photo released on June 11, 2021 by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows a selfie of China's first Mars rover Zhurong with the landing platform. [CNSA/Handout via Xinhua]
A new study has revealed that the site where China's Mars rover Zhurong landed must have experienced wind and possibly water erosion, providing more evidence on the surface features of the red planet.
The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience this week, analyzed data collected by Zhurong over its first 60 Martian days, during which it has traveled approximately 450 meters.
A team of researchers, led by Ding Liang of the Harbin Institute of Technology in northeast China, found that the Martian soil has high bearing strength and cohesion evidence of wind erosion after studying the surface rocks imaged by the rover's cameras. They also identified landscapes such as ridges, ripples and eroded craters, indicating that the site has been subject to long periods of weathering by the wind.
Apart from wind erosion, researchers also observed some rock textures which appear to be evidence of interactions with salty water, according to the study.
Zhurong touched down on the Utopia Planitia, a vast plain in the northern hemisphere of Mars, on May 15, 2021. Since then, it has collected surface rock samples and captured images while exploring the planet.
Some scientists believe the Utopia Plain is a volcanic area with an estimated surface age of over 3 billion years. It may have hosted a large amount of liquid water or ice in the past.
The findings can provide more new insights into the history of the planet's surface and the evolution of the northern lowlands on Mars, according to the researchers.