An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft efficiently landed on the floor of Mars on Saturday, state information company Xinhua reported, making China the second space-faring nation after the United States to land on the Red Planet.
The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a website on an enormous plain generally known as Utopia Planitia, “leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time,” Xinhua mentioned.
Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a message of congratulations to all of the folks concerned within the mission.
“You were brave enough for the challenge, pursued excellence and placed our country in the advanced ranks of planetary exploration,” he mentioned. “Your outstanding achievement will forever be etched in the memories of the motherland and the people.”
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 Space News mentioned.
It mentioned the touchdown course of consisted of “nine minutes of terror” because the module decelerates after which slowly descends.
The official touchdown time was 2318 GMT (0718 Beijing time), Xinhua mentioned, citing the China National Space Administration. The rover took greater than 17 minutes to unfold its photo voltaic panels and antenna and ship alerts to floor controllers greater than 320 million kilometres away.
The rover, named Zhurong, will now survey the touchdown website earlier than departing from its platform to conduct inspections. Named after a legendary Chinese god of fireplace, Zhurong has six scientific devices together with a high-resolution topography digital camera.
It will research the planet’s floor soil and environment. Zhurong can even search for indicators of historic life, together with any sub-surface water and ice, utilizing a ground-penetrating radar.
Tianwen-1, or “Questions to Heaven”, after a Chinese 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 island of Hainan in July final yr, launched by the highly effective Long March 5 rocket.
After greater than six months in transit, Tianwen-1 reached the Red 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 among three that reached Mars in February, with U.S. rover Perseverance efficiently touching down on Feb. 18 in an enormous melancholy known as Jezero Crater, greater than 2,000 km away from Utopia Planitia.
Hope – the third spacecraft that arrived at Mars in February this yr – shouldn’t be designed to make a touchdown. Launched by the United Arab Emirates, it’s presently orbiting above Mars gathering knowledge on its climate and environment.
The first 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 bold house programme. It is testing reusable spacecraft and can be planning to determine manned lunar analysis station.
In a commentary printed on Saturday, Xinhua mentioned China was “not looking to compete for leadership in space” however was dedicated to “unveiling the secrets of the universe and contributing to humanity’s peaceful use of space.”
© Thomson Reuters 2021