Planet technology

“Nihao Mars”: Chinese rover Zhurong lands on the red planet

Published on May 15, 2021 08:08

The mission “landed successfully in the pre-selected area,” state broadcaster CCTV said.

BEIJING (AFP) – China’s Mars probe touched down on the Red Planet on Saturday morning to deploy its Zhurong rover, state media reported, a triumph for Beijing’s increasingly daring space ambitions and a historic feat for a nation on its very first Martian. mission.

The lander carrying Zhurong completed the treacherous descent through the Martian atmosphere using a parachute to navigate the “Seven Minutes of Terror” as it is called, targeting a vast northern lava plain known as the Utopia Planitia.

The mission “successfully landed in the pre-selected area,” state broadcaster CCTV said, launching a special television program dedicated to the mission called “Nihao Mars.”

The state-run Xinhua News Agency quoted the National Space Administration of China (CNSA) to confirm the landing.

This makes China the first country to perform an orbit, landing and roaming operation on its first mission to Mars – a feat unmatched by the only two other countries to reach the Red Planet so far. , the United States and Russia.

China has now sent astronauts into space, propelled probes to the moon and landed a rover on Mars, the most prestigious of all awards in the competition for space domination.

– Three month mission –

Zhurong, named after a mythical Chinese fire god, arrives a few months behind America’s latest probe to Mars – Perseverance – as the show of technological might between the two superpowers unfolds beyond Earth’s limits.

Six-wheeled, solar-powered and weighing around 240 kilograms, the Chinese rover is on a quest to collect and analyze rock samples from the surface of Mars.

The launch of the Chinese Tianwen-1 Mars probe, which carried the rover last July, marked a major milestone in the Chinese space program.

The spacecraft entered orbit of Mars in February and, after prolonged silence, state media reported that it had reached “crucial landing stage” on Friday.

The landing was to be a blow to the National Space Administration of China (CNSA), with state media describing the process of using a parachute, rocket to slow descent, and buffer legs as ” the most difficult part of the mission “.

He is expected to spend about three months there to take photos and collect geographic data.

The complicated landing process is called the “seven minutes of terror” because it occurs faster than radio signals can reach Earth from Mars, which means communications are limited.

Several US, Russian and European attempts to land rovers on Mars have failed in the past, most recently in 2016 with the crash landing of the joint Russian-European spacecraft Schiaparelli.

The latest successful arrival came in February, when US space agency NASA landed its Perseverance rover, which is exploring from the planet.

The American rover launched a small robotic helicopter on Mars, the first powered flight ever made on another planet.

The country has come a long way in its race to catch up with the United States and Russia, whose astronauts and cosmonauts have decades of experience in space exploration.

China successfully launched the first module of its new space station last month in hopes of having it crewed by 2022 and possibly sending humans to the moon.

Last week, a segment of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket disintegrated over the Indian Ocean during an uncontrolled landing on Earth.

It drew criticism from the United States and other countries for violating the etiquette governing the return of space debris to Earth, with officials saying the remains could endanger life and property.

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