We all have been loving the advancements our world has been making in the space world. With every passing year, we are continuously exploring new genres of space. One such special incident took place recently when China successfully landed its first-ever rover on the Red Planet, Mars. This article explains all you need to know about China’s Mars rover landing.
What exactly happened and why is it so special?
So recently, China became only the second nation to complete a successful rover landing on the Red Planet. The mission was named Tianwen-1 Mission, which was China’s first interplanetary mission, reached the surface of Mars on May 14. This happened at around 2311 GMT but the official and exact timings haven’t been disclosed by the Chinese officials.
This mission includes an orbiter, a lander and a rover which makes it the first to send all three of them to Mars. The biggest test was surely the landing. Several missions have failed, lost or crashed during the landings. This is purely because people on Earth have no control over it and more so because they must leave pre-programmed instructions in them for the situation.
What happened when the rover started to land?
When both the lander and rover started their downfall to the surface and entered the atmosphere of the planet, it experienced a similar phenomenon called the ‘seven minutes of terror’ which was also experienced by NASA’s rovers as well when they attempted soft landings. In its quest for a successful landing, it moved at around 4.8 kilometres per second, it was protected by a heat shield.
As it closed in on the landing, it released a parachute to slow down and further used a rocket booster for brakes. As it got as close as 100 metres to the surface, it used its laser system to detect the surface and assess the surface to prevent itself from large boulders. Soon, China became the second country to land a rover on the surface of Mars. It landed in the plain region in the Northern hemisphere of the planet named Utopia Planitia. It is the same place where the Viking 2 lander landed in 1976.
Chinese officials and agencies did not confirm the landing as of yet but the state run organisation China Global Television Network announced it on social media. Additionally, the Macau University of Science and Technology in China confirmed that the rover had landed successfully just less than 40 kilometres from the target location, which is a big deal.
The Mars Rover – Zhurong! What did it carry with it?
Zhurong – China’s Mars Rover which is named after the god of fire from ancient Chinese mythology, will deploy itself from the lander. This would be done by driving down a foldable ramp. After its deployment, the rover is expected to stay there for at least 90 Mars days. It’s important to know that the days on Mars are about 40 minutes longer than Earth’s days.
This means it will stay there for around 93 Earth days. The rover will move on the surface of Mars to study various things such as the presence of water and study the composition of the surface. It would also study the various signs for tracing the signs of ancient life. There are beliefs that the landing point Utopia Planitia contains water ice in vast amounts under its surface. It is speculated that the region was once covered by the Martian ocean. Utopia Planitia is also the largest known impact crater in the entire Solar System.
If the exploration goes well, researchers could get into some ancient rocks and their formation. This would further help us know our planet’s history. The same research couldn’t be done on Earth as most pieces of evidence have been destroyed over time by natural phenomenons.
The rover – Zhurong stores in it six scientific equipments for research of the Martian land. This includes:
- Two panoramic cameras for capturing the high-definition images of rocks.
- Magnetic field detector
Ground-penetrating radar could reveal the reasons and processes which led to its formation.
A meteorological instrument that studies the climate of Mars.
- The sixth one is a special laser that can be used to zap rocks to study the composition of them.
Who has successfully landed rovers on Mars before?
Tianwen-1 might be the first Mars landing mission by China, but not their only one. In 2011, the Yinghuo-1 failed in the mission and never made out of Earth’s orbit and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Apart from China, the only one which has landed successfully on Mars is none other than America’s NASA which has landed five rovers on the surface.
The Soviet Union also landed a probe on the surface, but the mission ended prematurely as the spacecraft failed just a few minutes after it landed on the surface. Technically, China is the third country to land on Mars if the Soviet mission is considered. But considering that China has successfully landed the rover, and has contacts with it, it is only the second country to do after the US.
The European Space Agency has attempted two more missions for landing on Mars, and both have failed. But several other countries have successfully inserted their rovers in the orbit of Mars. China is the sixth organisation to do so after NASA, the Soviet Union, European Space Agency, India and the UAE – quite an elite list.
What are China’s further ideas?
China has become quite aggressive in the space world. It has planned several missions for increasing its power in the domain. Tianwen-1 has been its first interplanetary mission. China has successfully landed two rovers on the Moon, the recent of which brought samples of moon rocks with it in December.
China has several missions which are at the launching stages. Some of them are:
- It is working on building its new space station. The first fragment of this space station launched in April. This certainly created global panic recently as large rocks from the rocket came towards Earth. Much to our relief, it landed in an ocean and didn’t cause much harm.
China also has an ambitious plan for a Mars sample return mission in the year 2028. This would be quite similar to the missions that have been planned by NASA and ESA, scheduled to launch the same year.
It has also collaborated with Russia for an asteroid sample return mission which is planned to go off in 2024.
How big is this Mars rover landing for China?
This mission is considered one of the biggest leaps for China in the Space world. Scientists say that it is a great deal for China to do this in a single go, which took NASA decades. Researchers say that it is the feat of China’s science and technology which has allowed them to achieve this. Everyone around the world is absolutely excited about the detection of permafrost in the plain region.
The Mars rover landing mission China’s was one important event for the country and for the entire world. It took off in February 2021 and has successfully landed on the surface of Mars. With this, China became the third country to land on Mars and the second country to successfully land a rover. This would open new doors of exploration for researchers all around the world. The rover named Zhurong is expected to stay there for at least 93 Earth days and move around the surface. This mission is accompanied by several other missions which have been planned by China for the near future.
So now you surely know what the China Mars Rover Landing mission was!