China Has Landed Its First Rover On Mars
According to Chinese state news agency Xinhua, an entry capsule enclosing them separated from the orbiter at about 4 am Beijing time on 15 May. After several hours it entered Mars’s atmosphere at an altitude of 125 kilometers.
The landing took place at Utopia Planitia, a flat swath of Martian land and the same region where NASA’s Viking 2 lander touched down in 1976. After touching down, the lander will unfurl a ramp and deploy China’s Zhurong rover, a six-wheeled solar-powered robot named after the god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology.
The rover carries a suite of onboard instruments, including two cameras, a Mars-Rover Subsurface Exploration Radar, Mars Magnetic Field Detector, and Mars Meteorology Monitor.
The Tianwen-1 spacecraft launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in China’s Hainan province on July 23rd last year, setting off on a seven-month trek to the Red Planet. The spacecraft trio “has functioned normally” since it entered Mars orbit in February, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement Friday morning. It collected a “huge amount” of scientific data and snapped photos of Mars while in its orbit.