China Lands Rover on Mars

China Lands Rover on Mars

China’s Zhurong lander/rover successfully landed on Mars today according to Chinese press reports. It is an impressive achievement on China’s first Mars landing attempt.

Zhurong was launched as part of the Tianwen-1 mission last year and entered orbit around Mars in February.  Today it separated from Tianwen-1 and descended to the surface.

Zhurong means God of Fire in Chinese mythology. The Chinese name for Mars, Huoxing, means Planet of Fire.

Zhurong landed in Utopia Planitia, a relatively flat plain.

The head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen, tweeted his congratulations.

The United States has successfully landed nine landers and/or rovers on Mars since 1976, most recently the Perseverance rover and its Ingenuity helicopter this year. But landing on Mars is no mean feat.  Only one of four attempts by the Soviet Union in the 1970s was even a partial success and two European probes — the UK’s Beagle 2 and the European Space Agency’s Schiaparelli — did not survive.  One U.S. mission (Mars Polar Lander) also did not make it.

Back in July 2020 when the mission was launched, China’s CGTN posted a video of the rover rolling off the lander.

China’s Xinhua news service reported that Zhurong landed at 7:18 am Beijing Time May 15 (7:18 pm May 14 EDT) and the 240 kilogram (530 pound) rover will roll over the lander in 7-8 days.  It has a design lifetime of 90 days.

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