It is every developing and developed nation’s dream to land its feet on the planet Mars and reportedly, China has aced this dream. China’s state-affiliated media publication, CGTN, has reported that the nation has successfully landed its rover on Mars and in the process has created history as it has become the second country ever to have a rover on the Red planet.
China’s rover, which had been named Zhurong after a god of fire in Chinese mythology, landed on the surface of Mars during the early hours of May 15 in Utopia Planitia- an area that had already been marked as its landing spot. It is also the same area where NASA’s Viking 2 lander landed on Mars in 1976.
It completed the landing in a seven-minute sequence. the China Tianwen-1 spacecraft ejected the rover-lander bundle at around 7 PM ET, allowing it to start its designated mission of studying Mars’ geology and its climate. Tianwen-1 will be gathering important information about the soil of the planet, its geological structure, the surrounding environment, and the atmosphere, as well as find out any signs of the existence of water on Mars.
China developed Zhurong, which is a six-wheel solar-powered rover, weighs approximately 240 kilograms i.e., 529 pounds and has six scientific instruments onboard- apart from two cameras, it has a Mars-Rover Subsurface Exploration Radar, Mars Magnetic Field Detector, and Mars Meteorology Monitor. Soon, the rover will be deployed from the lander to embark on its three-month mission during which it will search for any evidence of life or possibility for the same on Mars’ surface.
Meanwhile, the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter will continue to relay its signal to the rover and then proceed to survey the planet for one Martian year.
On July 23, 2020, a Long March 5 rocket launched Tianwen-1 from the Wenchang space launch center in Hainan. It took seven months to reach Mars’ orbit, which it entered in February following which the spacecraft sent back its first photo of the Red planet.
Everything from the launch of the spacecraft to the landing of the probe has gone according to plan without a single hitch. China’s scientific team behind Tianwen-1 has expressed their excitement about the same and proudly added that no planetary missions in the past have ever been so successfully implemented on its very first attempt.
In the past, only NASA held the status of successfully landing and operate rovers on Mars. So, now that China has successfully managed to execute the second leg of its mission, according to the mission’s top scientists, the primary task of Tianwen-1 will be to “perform a global and extensive survey” of the entire planet via the orbiter and for the rover to observe “surface locations of scientific interests” as well as investigate the areas accurately.
Tianwen-1 by China isn’t the only international Mars mission that has tasted success as last summer two more missions were launched- NASA’s Perseverance rover and the United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe whose mission was to simply study Mars from orbit. While the former landed on Mars in February, the latter entered orbit around Mars around the same time, also in February.