The China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Saturday confirmed that the lander carrying China’s first Mars rover has touched down on Mars, making this a historial success for the country as it is the first time China has landed a probe on a planet other than Earth.
As reported by news agency IANS, the rover touched down at its pre-selected landing area in the southern part of Utopia Planitia on Mars at Beijing Time 7.18 a.m. on Saturday.
Reacting to this, CNSA head Zhang Kejian announced at the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre that, “The Mars exploration mission has been a total success. It’s another important milestone for China’s space exploration.”
Zhurong Rover Lands On Mars – 10 Key Points To Know
1. China launched its Mars probe — Tianwen-1 — on July 23, 2020. The spacecraft, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, was launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of southern China’s island province of Hainan.
2. The Mars rover is named Zhurong. Chinese state news agency Xinhua in a report stated that Zhurong is the god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology, which echoes the Chinese name of the red planet, Huoxing (meaning the planet of fire).
3. The Zhurong rover resembles a blue butterfly. It is a six-wheeled solar-powered rover with a mass of 240 kg. It has an expected lifespan of at least 90 Martian days which is about three months on Earth.
4. The spacecraft entered the Mars orbit in February after a journey of nearly seven months through space, and spent more than two months surveying potential landing sites.
5. On saturday, the spacecraft began to descend from its parking orbit. After flying for approximately three hours, the entry capsule hurtled toward the red planet and entered the Mars atmosphere at an altitude of 125 km.
6. First, the specially designed aerodynamic shape of the entry capsule decelerated with the friction of the Martian atmosphere and a huge parachute covering an area of about 200 square metres was unfurled.
7. The parachute and the outer shield of the spacecraft were then jettisoned, exposing the lander and rover. At about 100 metres above the Martian surface, the craft hovered to identify obstacles. Tt selected a relatively flat area and descended slowly.
8. After separating from the entry capsule, the orbiter was lifted to return to its parking orbit and helped relay communications between the landing vehicle and Earth.
9. According to reports, rover Zhurong, before moving down from the lander to the Martian surface, will take about 7-8 days time ti detect the surrounding environment and conduct self checks.
10. The Tianwen-1 aims to map the morphology and geological structure, investigate surface soil characteristics and water-ice distribution, analyze the surface material composition, measure the ionosphere and the characteristics of the Martian climate of Mars.