China simply efficiently landed its first rover on Mars, changing into solely the second nation to take action.
The Tianwen-1 mission, China’s first interplanetary endeavor, reached the floor of the Purple Planet Friday (Could 14) at roughly 7:11 p.m. EDT (2311 GMT), although Chinese language house officers haven’t but confirmed the precise time and placement of landing. Tianwen-1 (which interprets to “Heavenly Questions”) arrived in Mars’ orbit in February after launching to the Purple Planet on a Lengthy March 5 rocket in July 2020.
After circling the Purple Planet for greater than three months, the Tianwen-1 lander, with the rover connected, separated from the orbiter to start its plunge towards the planet’s floor. As soon as the lander and rover entered Mars’ ambiance, the spacecraft endured the same process to the “seven minutes of terror” that NASA’s Mars rovers have skilled when trying gentle landings on Mars.
A warmth protect protected the spacecraft through the fiery descent, after which the mission safely parachuted all the way down to the Utopia Planitia area, a plain within an infinite impression basin within the planet’s northern hemisphere. Very like throughout NASA’s Perseverance rover touchdown, Tianwen-1’s touchdown platform fired some small, downward-facing rocket engines to decelerate throughout the previous couple of seconds of its descent.
The China Nationwide House Administration (CNSA) has not but formally confirmed the profitable touchdown, nevertheless it has been introduced on social media by the state-run China World Tv Community (
CGTN) and by researchers at Macau College of Science and Know-how in China.
China’s Mars rover, referred to as Zhurong after an historic hearth god in Chinese language mythology, will half methods with the lander by driving down a foldable ramp. As soon as it has deployed, the rover is predicted to spend at the very least 90 Mars days (or about 93 Earth days; a day on Mars lasts about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth) roving around on Mars to check the planet’s composition and search for indicators of water ice. Utopia Planitia is believed to comprise huge quantities of water ice beneath the floor. It is also the place NASA’s Viking 2 mission touched down in 1976.
It additionally has a laser that it might probably use to zap rocks and research their composition, in addition to a meteorological instrument to check the local weather and climate on Mars.
Zhurong will work in tandem with the Tianwen-1 orbiter to check the Purple Planet, and the orbiter will function an information relay station for communications between Zhurong and mission controllers on Earth. The orbiter is designed to final for at the very least one Mars 12 months, or about 687 Earth days.
Tianwen-1 could also be China’s first Mars touchdown mission, nevertheless it is not China’s first Mars shot. The primary, an orbiter referred to as Yinghuo-1, launched in 2011 with Russia’s failed Phobos-Grunt Mars sample-return mission, which by no means made it previous Earth’s orbit after launch, as a substitute crashing into the Pacific Ocean and destroying the spacecraft.
China is now the second nation to efficiently land a Mars rover (NASA has landed 5 rovers on Mars). The profitable orbit insertion of the Tianwen-1 mission in February made China the sixth entity to take action, following NASA, the Soviet Union, the European House Company (ESA), India and the United Arab Emirates.
Other than China and NASA, the Soviet Union is the one different nation to have landed a probe on Mars, however that mission (referred to as Mars 3) ended prematurely when the spacecraft failed just a few minutes after it landed. The European House Company has tried two Mars landings, however each spacecraft crashed.
Tianwen-1 is China’s first interplanetary mission. Till now, Chinese language spacecraft have not ventured past Earth’s moon, the place the nation has efficiently landed two rovers as a part of its Chang’e program, which most just lately introduced moon rocks to Earth in December. China can also be planning to launch an bold Mars sample-return mission in 2028, like a joint NASA and ESA sample-return mission scheduled to launch that very same 12 months.
Within the meantime, China is engaged on constructing its new house station, the primary piece of which launched in April — and brought on international panic final week when massive rocket particles got here tumbling to Earth in an uncontrolled vogue. China can also be collaborating with Russia on an asteroid sample-return mission scheduled to launch in 2024.