China – Space craft lands on Mars leaving Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time
An unmanned Chinese spacecraft landed on Mars on Saturday, making China only the second country after the US to successfully land on the red planet.
China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft, currently in orbit around Mars, dropped its lander and rover – named Zhurong after a Chinese mythological god of fire – on the surface of the planet early on Saturday, completing a critical stage of the ongoing mission, described by Chinese state media as ‘extremely complicated with no ground control’.
The lander carrying the rover, Zhurong, completed the treacherous descent through the Martian atmosphere using a parachute to navigate the “seven minutes of terror” as it is known, aiming for a vast northern lava plain known as the Utopia Planitia.
Zhurong, named after a Chinese mythical fire god, arrived a few months behind America’s latest probe to Mars – Perseverance – as the show of technological might between the two superpowers played out beyond the bounds of Earth.
Now that the Chinese rover has reached the surface, Zhurong will begin exploring. It will need to work fast: The rover, which weighs 240 kilograms, can last three Martian months, about 92 days on Earth.
Aside from China and NASA, the Soviet Union is the only other country to have landed a probe on Mars, but that mission (called Mars 3) ended prematurely when the spacecraft failed only a few minutes after it landed. The European Space Agency has attempted two Mars landings, but both spacecraft crashed