China’s Mars Rover Rolls Off Lander, Begins Probing Mission
Around 10:40 a.m. Saturday Beijing time, China’s first Mars rover officially drove down its landing platform ramp and began roaming the Red Planet, China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.
CNSA release another photograph (here’s the first) of the rover, called Zhurong, which touched down in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a large plain on the northern hemisphere of Mars, last Saturday.
Landing on the Red Planet is dangerous – CNSA said last week it was “nine minutes of terror” as the lander descended toward the planet’s surface at a high rate of speed, and the thin atmosphere didn’t have enough friction to slow the descent.
Only NASA has reached the surface of Mars intact on multiple occasions. According to the diagram below, the lander (with Zhurong encased inside) relied on parachutes and rocket engines to slow the descent. This method is similar to NASA’s, who has landed Curiosity and Perseverance rovers on Mars.
Space is no longer limited to the original Cold War superpowers (US & Russia). China has to been thrown into the mix after being the second country to land a rover on Mars.
China is becoming more active in space, especially on the Red Planet, alongside the US, which already has NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance probing for life. The US rover recently launched a helicopter, called Ingenuity, already performing five successful flights.
Zhurong will spend three Martian months, about 92 Earth days, probing the surface of Mars for evidence of life.
Sat, 05/22/2021 – 17:00