How Many Rovers Are On Mars? [At This Very Moment In Time]

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The exploration of Mars by remote spacecraft dates back until the 1960s. Today, the United States Space agency NASA continues its search of the Red Planet through various technologies. Rovers are particular planetary surface exploration devices that are used. But how many are there? Here is what you want to know.

So, how many rovers are on Mars? There are currently six rovers on Mars, five operated by the United States and one operated by China. The names of the five rovers of the United States are Sojourner, Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity, Perseverance. Zhurong, the Chinese rover, landed on 15th May 2021.

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Astronomy Scope

Mars is a planet of great scientific interest.

The fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System.

As such, this planet has been explored remotely by various different types of spacecraft.

And through various probes; our knowledge of the planet – its geology and even its habitability potential have been analyzed.

Let us know take a closer look at the rovers on Mars right now before looking at exactly what they do and what they have discovered!

How Many Rovers Are On Mars Right Now?

As of April 2021, there are currently 6 mars rovers, although only three of them are known to be operationally active. The active rovers include Curiosity, Perseverance, and Zhurong (with Zhurong being the most recent rover to land – doing so on 15th May 2021.)

While there are six rovers on Mars right now; Spirit, Opportunity, and Sojourner have completed their missions. NASA has since lost contact with them.

And Zhurong has made history.

It is the first Chinese spacecraft to land on the planet!

The six-wheeled Zhurong rover, was targeting Utopia Planitia, a vast terrain in the planet’s northern hemisphere.

It took around 17 minutes for the rover to fully deploy and send its signal back to Earth.

What Do Mars Rovers Do?

Rovers are small motor vehicles that drive around on the surface of a planet.

They have wheels and are designed to be capable of driving around to different areas; gaining additional intelligence compared to more stationary landers.

Rovers can cover quite a bit of land, and often carry other specialized equipment to send back intelligence. This typically has included microphones and cameras.

Rovers help scientists to analyze the surface of a planet; including the rocks and chemicals that make them up.

It is through such chemicals that scientists can better understand the environment and any changes over an extended period of time.

What Is The Mars Exploration Program?

The Mars exploration program is the basis of the use of rovers on Mars. It began in 1994 and continues to this day.

Setup by NASA, the program aims to:

“The goal of the Mars Exploration Program is to explore Mars and to provide a continuous flow of scientific information and discovery through a carefully selected series of robotic orbiters, landers and mobile laboratories interconnected by a high-bandwidth Mars/Earth communications network.

Furthermore, the program is looking to help us to understand the history of, and how Mars has been shaped over time, the potential for Mars to have a hosted life (known as its biological potential), and how Mars compares with Earth.

Thus far, the program and use of technology have provided us with images of the surface and important insights such as planetary temperature and rock chemical disposition.

Mars Missions

Active

RoverLaunchedLaunched ByLandedNotes
Curiosity November 26, 2011NASAAugust 6, 2012Still Operational
As of April 2021
PerseveranceJuly 30, 2020NASAFebruary 18, 2021It carries the Mars Helicopter Ingenuity
ZhurongJuly 23, 2020CNSA15th May, 2021Successfully reached Mars orbit on February 10, 2021.
The rover component landed on Mars in May 2021.

No Longer Active

RoverLaunchedLaunched ByLandedNotes
Mars 3, Prop-M RoverMay 28, 1971Soviet UnionDecember 2, 1971Stopped communicating about 104.5 seconds after landing
SojournerDecember 4, 1996NASAJuly 4, 1997Communications were lost on September 27, 1997.
Sojourner had traveled a distance of just over 100 meters (330 ft)
Spirit (MER-A), Mars Exploration Rover (MER)June 10, 2003NASAJanuary 4, 2004Operational for 6 years. Spirit covered a total distance of 7.73 km (4.80 miles) but  wheels ulitmately got trapped in sand.
The last communication received from the rover was on March 22, 2010, and NASA ceased attempts to re-establish communication on May 25, 2011
Opportunity (MER-B) July 7, 2003NASAJanuary 25, 2004Operational for 5498 Earth days from landing to mission end; 15 Earth years or 8 Martian years.
It covered 45.16 km (28.06 mi).
The rover sent its last status on 10 June 2018 when Mars dust storm blocked the sunlight required for battery recharge. 
After hundreds of attempts to reactivate, NASA declared the mission complete on February 13, 2019.

En-route

RoverLaunchedLaunched ByLandedNotes
N/AN/AN/AN/AN/A

Planned

The European-Russian ExoMars rover Rosalind Franklin are planned to launch in 2022.

Finally

Mars rovers are essential to the Mars Exploration Program.

These land-based motor vehicles have expanded our understanding of the Red Planet tremendously and will continue to do so going forward.

Curiosity and Perseverance are active know, and their captured images and recent findings can be seen over at the NASA Mars website.

But with a number of Mars rovers being planned, proposed and developed, there is much more to come!