The Chinese probe landed on Mars early Saturday morning in the southern Utopia Plain in Mars’ northern hemisphere. It took place in a fully automatic mode. This is the first landing of a Chinese space mission on another planet.
The lander from Zhurong completed its descent through the Martian atmosphere using a parachute – it took 7 minutes. He landed successfully in a pre-selected area. The complex landing process is called “seven minutes of horror” because it happens faster than radio signals reach Earth from Mars, which means that communication is limited.
Several attempts by the United States, Russia and Europe to land rovers on Mars have failed in the past, the most recent in 2016, when the joint Russian-European spacecraft Schiaparelli crash landed. The last successful arrival came in February, when US space agency NASA landed its Perseverance rover, which has been exploring the planet ever since.
Zhurong, named after the Chinese mythical god of fire, arrived a few months after the last American probe to Mars, Perseverance. As a result, the demonstration of technological power between the two superpowers is being played out outside the Earth.
A six-wheeled solar-powered rover weighing approximately 240 kilograms, the Chinese rover is searching for and collecting and analyzing rock samples from the surface of Mars. The launch of China’s Tianwen-1 Mars probe, which carried the rover last July, marks a major milestone in China’s space program.
The spacecraft entered Mars orbit in February, and after a lengthy silence, China’s state media announced that it had reached its “critical touchdown stage” on Friday. Zhurong is expected to spend about three months there photographing and collecting geographic data.
China has come a long way in the race to catch up with the United States and Russia, whose astronauts and cosmonauts have decades of experience in space exploration. It successfully launched the first module of its new space station last month, hoping it will be manned by 2022 and eventually send humans to the moon.
Last week, part of the Chinese Long March 5B rocket disintegrated over the Indian Ocean as a result of an uncontrolled landing on Earth. This drew criticism from the United States and other countries for violating the etiquette governing the return of space debris to Earth.