A Lengthy March-5 rocket, carrying an orbiter, lander and rover as a part of the Tianwen-1 mission to Mars, lifts off from the Wenchang House Launch Centre in southern China’s Hainan Province on July 23, 2020.
NOEL CELIS | AFP | Getty Photos
An uncrewed Chinese language spacecraft efficiently landed on the floor of Mars on Saturday, state information company Xinhua reported, making China the second space-faring nation after the USA to land on the Crimson Planet.
The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a web site on an enormous plain generally known as Utopia Planitia, “leaving a Chinese language footprint on Mars for the primary time,” Xinhua stated.
Chinese language President Xi Jinping issued a message of congratulations to all of the individuals concerned within the mission.
“You have been courageous sufficient for the problem, pursued excellence and positioned our nation within the superior ranks of planetary exploration,” he stated. “Your excellent achievement will endlessly be etched within the recollections of the motherland and the individuals.”
The craft left its parked orbit at about 1700 GMT Friday (0100 Beijing time Saturday). The touchdown module separated from the orbiter three hours later and entered the Martian environment, the official China House Information stated.
It stated the touchdown course of consisted of “9 minutes of terror” because the module decelerates after which slowly descends.
The official touchdown time was 2318 GMT (0718 Beijing time), Xinhua stated, citing the China Nationwide House Administration. The rover took greater than 17 minutes to unfold its photo voltaic panels and antenna and ship indicators to floor controllers greater than 320 million kilometres away.
The rover, named Zhurong, will now survey the touchdown web site earlier than departing from its platform to conduct inspections. Named after a legendary Chinese language god of fireside, Zhurong has six scientific devices together with a high-resolution topography digital camera.
It should research the planet’s floor soil and environment. Zhurong will even search for indicators of historic life, together with any sub-surface water and ice, utilizing a ground-penetrating radar.
Tianwen-1, or “Inquiries to Heaven”, after a Chinese language poem written two millennia in the past, is China’s first unbiased mission to Mars. A probe co-launched with Russia in 2011 failed to go away the Earth’s orbit.
The five-tonne spacecraft blasted off from the southern Chinese language island of Hainan in July final yr, launched by the highly effective Lengthy March 5 rocket.
After greater than six months in transit, Tianwen-1 reached the Crimson Planet in February the place it had been in orbit since.
If Zhurong is efficiently deployed, China can be the primary nation to orbit, land and launch a rover in its maiden mission to Mars.
Tianwen-1 was one in every of three that reached Mars in February, with U.S. rover Perseverance efficiently touching down on Feb. 18 in an enormous melancholy referred to as Jezero Crater, greater than 2,000 km away from Utopia Planitia.
Hope – the third spacecraft that arrived at Mars in February this yr – isn’t designed to make a touchdown. Launched by the United Arab Emirates, it’s at present orbiting above Mars gathering information on its climate and environment.
The primary profitable touchdown ever was made by NASA’s Viking 1 in July 1976 after which by Viking 2 in September that yr. A Mars probe launched by the previous Soviet Union landed in December 1971, however communication was misplaced seconds after touchdown.
China is pursuing an formidable area programme. It’s testing reusable spacecraft and can be planning to ascertain manned lunar analysis station.
In a commentary printed on Saturday, Xinhua stated China was “not trying to compete for management in area” however was dedicated to “unveiling the secrets and techniques of the universe and contributing to humanity’s peaceable use of area.”