According to state media, China has landed its rover on Mars, becoming the top 2nd country in history to land on the red planet. According to the state-run, the rover, Zhurong, named after a god of fire in Chinese mythology, arrived Saturday morning at the pre-selected place in Utopia Planitia on Mars Xinhua news agency. The six-wheel solar-powered Zhurong rover weighs about 529 pounds and carries six scientific devices. It will be deployed later from the lander for a three-month mission, searching for signs, evidence of ancient life on Mars’s surface.
China’s been quiet about when we expect the entry, descent, and landing to begin, but reports recommended it occur at 4:11 p.m. PT (11:11 p.m. UTC) yesterday. Currently, the lander and rover are encased within a protective shell but will detach from the orbiter first and head toward the surface. When it hits the Martian atmosphere, about 7 minutes of terror starts. The lander-rover duo will bang into the tenuous atmosphere, safely tucked within a heat shield. Once the spacecraft hits through, the heat shield will fall off, and a parachute will be expanded to slow the vehicle down.
Zhurong’s landing is going to look slightly different from that made by NASA’s Perseverance rover in February. The NASA robot was reduced to the surface discreetly through the agency’s tried-and-true “sky crane” method, which observed the rover softly touch down in an ancient Mars lake bed.
Zhurong’s fall feels similar to Perseverance, but the lender will be doing all this work. It utilizes a suite of cameras and lidar to drive to the surface. If the touchdown is a success, then it deploys a ramp for Zhurong to roll out onto Mars and start its exploration mission.
In a review published on Saturday, Xinhua declared China wasn’t looking to compete for leadership in space. Still, it was committed to “uncover the secrets of the universe while contributing to humanity’s peaceful use of space.”