The rover, Zhurong, named after a god of fire and war in Chinese mythology, landed at the pre-selected area in Utopia Planitia on Mars. The six-wheel solar-powered Zhurong rover weighs about 240 kilogrammes and carries six scientific instruments. It will be later deployed from the lander for a three-month mission in search of life on Mars’ surface.
Tianwen-1, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, was launched on July 23, 2020. It was the first step in China’s planetary exploration of the solar system, with the aim of completing orbiting, landing and roving on the red planet in one mission.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a statement that its rover has successfully landed on Mars on Saturday after nine minutes of terror. The scientific research team confirmed via the telemetry signal sent by the Zhu Rong Mars rover that on May 15th, the Tianwen-1 Lander successfully landed in the pre-selected landing area in the Utopia Plain of southern Mars, it said.
The successful touchdown of the Chinese spacecraft on Mars is a remarkable achievement, given the difficult nature of the task. Only the Americans have really mastered landing on Mars until now. With this landing, China becomes the second country to put a rover on Mars.
Significantly, it will now be a space race on Mars as the Chinese spacecraft has landed three months after the successful landing of US space agency NASA’s Perseverance rover which is busy exploring the red planet’s surface with a helicopter hovering around.