According to the Chinese media, China has successfully landed its rover on the red planet, becoming the second country in the world to have a rover on Mars.
Zhurong, the rover named after a god of fire in Chinese mythology, landed at the pre-selected area in Utopia Planitia on Saturday morning, as reported by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
The six-wheeled Zhurong rover weighs about 529 pounds (240 kilograms) and carries six scientific instruments. It is also powered by solar energy. It will be eventually deployed from the lander for a four-month mission in search of evidence or signs of ancient life on Mars’s surface.
The Mars orbiter, Tianwen-1, will transfer its signal to the rover during its mission and then carry a global survey of the planet for one year. The probe has spent three months in orbit exploring the landing area before releasing the lander to the surface.
On July 23 last year, Tianwen-1 was launched from the Wenchang space launch centre in Hainan and spent eight months en route to Mars before entered its orbit in March.
The rover sent back its first photo of the red planet from more than 621,371 miles away.
The spacecraft is “going to orbit, release and land a rover all on the first try, and match observations with an orbiter,” the scientists behind Tianwen-1 said.
“No interstellar missions have ever been executed in this way,” the team said.
Tianwen-1 is one of the Mars missions launched last year, along with the United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe, which entered the orbit of Mars in February, and NASA’s Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars also in February. Unlike the China and United States missions, the UAE rover is not intended to land on Mars– just examine the planet from orbit.
All three rovers launched simultaneously due to an alignment between Mars and Earth on the same side of the sun.
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