China’s Zhurong Rover Discoveres That Mars Once Had An Ocean

Recently, an international research team led by Professor Xiao Long from the School of Earth Sciences at China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) discovered for the first time on the surface of Mars evidence of marine sedimentary rocks through comprehensive analysis of scientific data obtained from the multispectral camera (MSCam) carried by the Zhurong rover, proving that there was once an ocean on northern Mars.

The relevant research results were published in the comprehensive and authoritative journal ‘National Science Review’.

In 2021, China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission successfully landed the “Zhurong” Mars rover on the southern edge of the Utopia Planitia in the northern plains of Mars. The landing site is located near the ancient coastline proposed by previous researchers in the Northern Plains Formation, providing an opportunity to verify whether there are ancient ocean sediments.

Since landing, the Zhurong rover has been driving south towards a potential coastal area and conducting observations of the exposed northern plains formations along the way.

The rover has traveled about 1921 meters and used various imaging and analysis systems to conduct detailed in-situ observations of outcrops and surface rocks.

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The navigation camera and terrain camera have obtained 106 sets of panoramic images, recording in detail the surface morphology and structural features of many rocks near the rover’s path.

The observation results of the Zhurong rock in this study are the first direct in-situ detection evidence supporting the existence of ancient oceans in the northern plains of Mars.

The location of the landing site of Zhurong indicates that the observed sedimentary structures may have formed during the regression process of ancient oceans in the northern plains.