According to Chinese Government news agencies, the Tianwen-1 lander, which carries the Zhurong rover, has landed on Mars. No confirmation has been given by the agencies as to what time the rover landed and where it made touchdown.
China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) issued a statement confirming its rover Zhurong had successfully landed on Mars.
It said: “The scientific research team confirmed via the telemetry signal sent by the ‘Zhu Rong’ Mars rover that on May 15, the Tianwen-1 Lander successfully landed in the pre-selected landing area in the Utopia Plain of southern Mars.”
Confirmation of the landing came in after the ‘nine minutes of terror’, which refers to the time interval when engineers on Earth have no control or oversight of the rover because of a radio signal delay.
Only NASA has successfully managed to land and operate rovers on the planet in the past.
A CNSA researcher said Zhu Rong’s Mars landing would be “much harder” than China’s lunar rover Jade Rabbit, which landed on the moon’s surface in 2013.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, they said: “Landing on the moon relies primarily on rocket engines to decelerate, as the moon has no atmosphere, while the first stage of landing on Mars uses its atmosphere as brakes.
“That is a major test of the landing craft’s structure and heat-resistance, as it has to withstand violent shocks and extreme heat as it enters Mars’ tough atmosphere at a very high speed.”
Zhurong was targeting Utopia Planitia, a vast terrain in Mars’ northern hemisphere.
Tianwen-1 and Zhurong are China’s first Mars probe. It launched in July 2020 with three parts – orbiter, lander and rover.
The probe reached Mars and started orbiting in February.
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