The Red Planet is practically seething with the pitter-patter of tiny robo wheels if you include rovers and landers in your population census. On Mars, three rovers, one lander, and a helicopter are now operational, each with their own equally essential mission. The Curiosity rover, which arrived on Mars on August 6, 2012, is the eldest member of our team. Despite having a mission duration of only one Martian year (687 Earth days), the rover is still working hard over ten years later! Curiosity is searching for microbial life with the help of some innovative technology, including a laser that it has learned to operate on its own.
InSight is the proverbial flag-bearer for the landers. InSight, which landed on Mars on November 26, 2018, spends its days peering deep into the planet’s crust, core, and mantle. InSight collects crucial data on how our neighbor planets developed by observing tectonic activity, seismology, and temperature. However, the Mars population will be losing a key member shortly, as InSight is set to shut down due to a loss of solar panel chargers, and isn’t anticipated to make it through the year.
Perseverance and its faithful sidekick Ingenuity came on February 18, 2021. The rover investigates oxygen generation and seeks for indications of former life and underground waterbodies in the rocks to determine how long life may be sustained on Mars. Perseverance and Ingenuity, the Marscopter, collaborate to explore the potential of powered flight. This world of overachievers has a Martian rock smashing hitchhiking records, but these socialites aren’t alone on their objective. They’ve picked up a trusty pet rock on their travels.
The Zhurong rover, which will arrive on May 15, 2021, is the last on our list. The rover is exploring the planet’s geology and surface composition, seeking to construct a natural history of the planet’s environment. It is China’s first successful Mars mission and the second country to successfully land on Mars. Zhurong is presently preparing for the hard Martian winter by hibernating on May 18 in the hopes of escaping the dangerous dust gusts that have already taken InSight’s solar panels. Because Mars is the nearest planet to Earth that may sustain human life, knowing everything there is to know about the Red Planet could pave the way for interplanetary colonization, so keep trucking, tiny robots!