According to state media, China has successfully landed on Mars, becoming the second country in history to have a red rover.
According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the rover, Zhurong, named after a god of fire in Chinese mythology, landed on Mars on Saturday morning in a selected region in Utopia Planitia.
The Zhurong rover weighs about 240 kg (529 lb) and is powered by six solar-powered devices. It was subsequently deployed from the lander on the Mars surface for a three-month mission to seek signs or evidence of old life.
In the course of its mission the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter shall transmit its signal to the rover and then perform a global one-year survey of the planet. The probe has been on orbit for the landing area for three months before the rover was released to the surface.
On 23 July last year, Tianwen-1 started a 5-march rocket from the space-launch center in Wenchang in Hainan, and was on its way to Mars seven months before it entered the orbit in February.
The test “goes to orbit, land and release a rover all at the very first time to co-ordinate observations with an orbiter,” said the scientist team behind Tianwen-1 before landing the rover.
“This was not the way to planetary missions,” said the team.
Tianwen-1 was one of three international Mars missions launched last summer with NASA’s Perseverance rover that landed on Mars in February and the Hope Sample of the United Arab Emirates that also in February entered into orbit around Mars. The UAE test is not intended to land on Mars – just study the planet out of the orbit, as opposed to the missions to America and China.
The three missions began about the same time, due to the alignment on the same side of the Sun between Earth and Mars, to make the red planet journey more efficient.
Tianwen-1, whose name is called “Quest for Himself,” hopes to collect important information on the soil, geologic structure, atmosphere and surroundings of the Mars region, and to seek water signs.
Last weekend, the ambitious Chinese space program triggered headlines when a 40,000-pound rocket out of control hit the Indian Ocean – triggering a NASA rebuke that it did not “meet standards of responsibility for (its) space debris.”
The Long March 5B rocket had launched some of the new Chinese space station into orbit at the end of April and was uncontrolled until the Earth’s weight rebounded.
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