China Mars rover Zhurong makes historic landing on the red planet

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An artist’s content of the 3 spacecraft China sent to Mars successful July 2020. 

Nature Astronomy

Touchdown confirmed. China has go the 3rd federation successful quality past to safely onshore connected the aboveground of Mars — connected its archetypal attempt. 

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft, which had been orbiting Mars since February, released a shielded capsule to the aboveground of the reddish satellite connected Friday afternoon. Contained wrong was the rover Zhurong, strapped to the backmost of a landing conveyance that volition deploy the rover to the aboveground successful the coming hours. 

Provided the rover rolls disconnected its lander without immoderate trouble, China volition travel the US and go conscionable the 2nd federation to person a rover question crossed the Martian surface.

The spacecraft’s scheduled landing time, according to Chinese abstraction watchers, was 4:11 p.m. PT. 

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There may’ve been celebrations and high-fives exchanged successful CNSA’s ngo control, but the hoots oregon hollers we’re accustomed to seeing during NASA landings weren’t televised live. Instead, amateur astronomers listened retired for the telltale vigor signals being beamed backmost to Earth from the spacecraft to effort to discern however the ngo was proceeding.

Chinese authorities media confirmed the landing astatine 5:38 p.m. PT connected Friday.

Zhurong landed successful Utopia Planitia, 1 of Mars’ largest interaction craters. NASA’s defunct Viking 2 spacecraft landed successful the aforesaid crater successful 1976. Utopia Planitia is expected to house a cache of underground ice and whitethorn person erstwhile been covered by a Martian ocean. Where determination was erstwhile water, determination whitethorn person been life. Zhurong, similar NASA’s Perseverance, volition research the portion and hunt for signs of past life.

“Together with the planetary subject community, I look guardant to the important contributions this ngo volition marque to humanity’s knowing of the reddish planet,” tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, subordinate manager of NASA’s subject ngo directorate, connected Friday.

The past 10 months person been engaged for Martian exploration. 

Three spacecraft, including Tianwen-1, launched to Mars successful July 2020, taking vantage of Earth’s proximity to the reddish planet. The United Arab Emirates’ Hope orbiter, which volition survey Mars’ ambiance from space, inserted itself into orbit successful February. Not agelong after, NASA’s now-famous rolling rover, Perseverance, and its history-making flying companion Ingenuity, reached the aboveground of Mars, landing successful an past lakebed that whitethorn erstwhile person been location to Martian life.

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