- China’s Mars lander and rover touched down on the Martian surface on Friday evening.
- China is the third nation to land on Mars, and the first to deploy an orbiter, lander, and rover.
- The Zhurong rover goals to look water ice on Mars — a treasured resource for future astronauts.
- Spy extra tales on Insider’s industry page.
The mission, known as Tianwen-1, or “questions to heaven,” is the first to send a spacecraft into the planet’s orbit, tumble a touchdown platform onto the Martian surface, and deploy a rover multi function expedition.
If every thing went primarily based totally on belief, a gumdrop-formed touchdown tablet separated from the Tianwen-1 orbiter on Friday evening and fell in direction of Mars. With the lander and rover safely tucked inside, the tablet plummeted thru the Martian atmosphere, friction heating the sphere matter round it to temperatures exceeding 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
High above the crimson-mud Martian surface, a supersonic parachute had to deploy to unhurried the tablet’s descend. As the lander neared its destination, thrusters may per chance well own to own fired downward to support it decelerate. Then it’ll own reduced itself to the outside on a situation of legs to soak up the affect.
China has not released facts concerning the suppose of the lander or rover. Nonetheless if every thing is in real shape, the touchdown would set apart China the third nation to ever efficiently save a robotic on the Martian surface. It be the first non-NASA Mars touchdown for the reason that Soviet Union’s rover touched down in 1971.
Tianwen-1 launched in July 2020 and the spacecraft slipped into orbit round Mars in February. Landing used to be “primarily the most tense section of the mission,” the CNSA previously mentioned. Only half of the spacecraft which own ever attempted a Mars touchdown own succeeded.
Now, China’s first Mars lander and rover are sitting in the route of Utopia Planitia, a huge field of primitive volcanic rock that would own intensive reserves of water ice under its surface. If apartment agencies love NASA one day send humans to Mars, water would be a truly valuable resource since it’ll each and every preserve close astronauts and glean damaged down into hydrogen and oxygen for rocket fuel. It be now potentially not Mars-sure spaceships may per chance perchance raise sufficient water, oxygen, and hydrogen for the total run there and wait on.
If all goes well, the lander will deploy a two-music ramp for the six-wheeled rover to roll down onto Martian soil. The rover is believed as Zhurong, named for primitive Chinese mythology’s god of fire, primarily based totally on the CNSA. It be situation to detect the suppose and gaze its water ice with floor-penetrating radar.
The mission is additionally intended to support China put collectively for a future strive to return Martian rocks or grime to Earth in the late 2020s.
“Landing safely on Mars is a tall field, in particular for China’s first at ease touchdown strive,” Long Xiao, a planetary scientist on the China College of Geosciences, informed Nationwide Geographic forward of the strive. “Nonetheless it is a valuable step for Mars and deep-apartment exploration.”
The Zhurong rover has 90 days to detect Mars — for now
At 530 pounds, Zhurong is concerning the size of the Spirit and Different rovers NASA landed on Mars in 2004. It can perchance well opt extra than a week to deploy the lander’s ramp and roll the rover onto Martian soil, journalist Andrew Jones reported for IEEE Spectrum. Then it’ll beginning its butterfly-cruise photo voltaic panels to soak up the daylight hours and payment its batteries.
As soon as the rover is on the floor, it has about 90 days to look Mars. That’s its legitimate mission timeline, but Spirit and Different had the same three-month window and ended up exploring Mars for six and 14 years, respectively.
The Tianwen-1 orbiter will continue circling the crimson planet for one Martian year (two Earth years), relaying knowledge to Earth and taking photos. Its valuable aim is to “glean a global and intensive watch of the total planet,” primarily based totally on a journal article by Tianwen-1 scientists.
This could perchance well involve charting Mars’ geology, surveying its climate, and measuring its electromagnetic and gravitational fields.