China landed on Mars this year in May, and it was one of the most anticipated events of the year. Nature magazine even called the Zhurong landing “the biggest test yet of China’s deep-space exploration capabilities” and that within days of its land on the Mars surface, it could start to make geological discoveries. Although the communication between the Chinese Tianwen-1 probe and the earth has been hampered, the probe itself is not lost.
Some experts have explained the phenomenon that in late September, the Earth and Mars moved to both sides of the sun, which aligned the planets and the sun into almost a straight line. The electromagnetic radiation interference of the sun has also increased since then, and this radiation has caused communication to destabilize and it even resulted in communication interruption.
The Chinese astronomers are calling this phenomenon “sun Ling” which could be roughly translated as “the lost connection.” Apparently, this is a very normal thing to occur, and the scientists are hopeful that the communication connection will become normal once this gets over and it gets back to the normal solar transit. Essentially what this means is that the communication connection between the probe and the Chinese HQ is temporarily unavailable, in other words, the connection is missing and not lost.
However, to safely pass the solar transit period, both the Mars rover and the orbiter have completed the relevant state settings recently and have taken the necessary precaution, that is the rover and the orbiter have stopped the scientific exploration work, and in the meantime, they are engaged in monitoring the current situation of the solar transit.
The scientists have predicted that the “Lost Connection” period is likely to end in mid-October which will prompt the probe to resume communication with the ground and continue with its work.