The Mountain State’s TRUSTED news source.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.


Learn more about HD Media

Though more than half the size of Earth, Mars is apparently not big enough to prevent friction from arising between the two robotic exploration vehicles that successfully landed on the red planet this year.

According to Futurism.com, just one day after the Chinese rover Zhurong touched down on Martian soil in mid-May, “a surprising amount of people began clamoring for an epic fight” between it and the American rover Perseverance, which arrived Feb. 18.

Many of those supporting the idea of a Martian martial matchup between the Chinese and American machines made their feelings known on social media.

“And who can blame them? An interplanetary robot fight would be awesome,” the online publication commented.

While acknowledging such an event neither would nor should happen, the Futurism.com piece went on to catalog the rovers’ strengths and weaknesses that could be brought to bear in a fantasy bout.

Zhurong, named after a Chinese fire deity, might have a more imposing name than Perseverance (Percy, for short), but it lacks the American rover’s size, stature and armaments.

Perseverance is 10 feet long, 7 feet tall, tips the scales at 2,260 pounds and is equipped with a 7-foot-long robotic arm to which an electric drill is attached, as well as a plutonium-powered laser for probing the Martian soil — or whatever. Zhurong is 8 feet long, 6 feet tall and weighs 530 pounds. Two retractable solar panels capable of shaking off surface dust, or possibly slapping an adversary, account for its only potential weaponry.

In the speed department, Zhurong clearly has the edge, capable of traveling at 12 mph, compared to the quarter-mile per day maximum speed attainable by Perseverance. But Perseverance arrived on Mars with air support in the form of Ingenuity, the first robotic helicopter to achieve flight in the red planet’s atmosphere, with a maximum speed of more than 20 mph

Perseverance also has backup potential from NASA’s still-active rover Curiosity, which has been exploring Mars since landing on the planet three years ago.

Help would take a long time to arrive: This month, Curiosity has been covering a bit more than 50 meters a day, according to NASA’s website and is currently 2,300 miles from Perseverance.

You work the story problem. Personally, I would rather see a more down to Earth war of words, minus filibusters, for the Heavyweight Republocrat Championship of the World.

The fight card? Joe Manchin versus Mitt Romney.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.

Recommended for you