HomeLocal NewsChina lands spacecraft on Mars; NASA tweets congratulation

China lands spacecraft on Mars; NASA tweets congratulation

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NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen on Saturday extended congratulations on the successful landing of China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft on the Mars surface.

“Congratulations to CNSA’s #Tianwen1 team for the successful landing of China’s first Mars exploration rover, #Zhurong! Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to humanity’s understanding of the Red Planet,” Zurbuchen tweeted.

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Earlier in the day, Tianwen-1 with China’s first Mars rover Zhurong successfully touched down on the Red Planet, the first time China has landed a probe on a planet other than Earth.

Tianwen-1, 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 on July 23, 2020. It entered Mars’ parking orbit in February.

It is the first time in the world that orbiting and landing on Mars has been completed in one launch mission, and China has come to the forefront of Mars exploration in the world, said Ye Peijian, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

The rover, named after the Chinese god of fire Zhurong in ancient Chinese mythology, has ground-penetrating radar, a laser, and sensors to gauge the atmosphere and magnetic sphere.

The exploration of Mars will not only investigate whether there is or was life on Mars but will also help shed light on the history of evolution and the future development trends of Earth, as well as search for potential living space for human beings, said Li Chunlai, deputy chief designer of China’s first Mars exploration mission.

China lands rover on Mars

China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time Saturday, a technically challenging feat more difficult than a moon landing, in the latest step forward for its ambitious goals in space.

Plans call for a rover to stay in the lander for a few days of diagnostic tests before rolling down a ramp to explore an area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia. It will join an American rover that arrived at the red planet in February.

China’s first Mars landing follows its launch last month of the main section of what will be a permanent space station and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year.

“China has left a footprint on Mars for the first time, an important step for our country’s space exploration,” the official Xinhua News Agency said in announcing the landing.

The United States has had nine successful landings on Mars since 1976. The Soviet Union landed on the planet in 1971, but the mission failed after the craft stopped transmitting information soon after touchdown.

A rover and a tiny helicopter from the American landing in February are currently exploring Mars. NASA expects the rover to collect its first sample in July for return to Earth in a decade.

China has landed on the moon before, but landing on Mars is a much more difficult undertaking. Spacecraft use shields for protection from the searing heat of entering the Martian atmosphere, and use both retro-rockets and parachutes to slow down enough to prevent a crash landing. The parachutes and rockets must be deployed at precise times to land at the designated spot. Only mini-retro rockets are required for a moon landing, and parachutes alone are sufficient for returning to Earth.

(Xinhua/NAN)

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