China lander has reached surface of Mars

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Sooner Boomer

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from Space.com

China just successfully landed its first rover on Mars, becoming only the second nation to do so.

The Tianwen-1 mission, China's first interplanetary endeavor, reached the surface of the Red Planet Friday (May 14) at approximately 7:11 p.m. EDT (2311 GMT), though Chinese space officials have not yet confirmed the exact time and location of touchdown. Tianwen-1 (which translates to "Heavenly Questions") arrived in Mars' orbit in February after launching to the Red Planet on a Long March 5 rocket in July 2020.

After circling the Red Planet for more than three months, the Tianwen-1 lander, with the rover attached, separated from the orbiter to begin its plunge toward the planet's surface. Once the lander and rover entered Mars' atmosphere, the spacecraft endured a similar procedure to the "seven minutes of terror" that NASA's Mars rovers have experienced when attempting soft landings on Mars.

A heat shield protected the spacecraft during the fiery descent, after which the mission safely parachuted down to the Utopia Planitia region, a plain inside of an enormous impact basin in the planet's northern hemisphere. Much like during NASA's Perseverance rover landing, Tianwen-1's landing platform fired some small, downward-facing rocket engines to slow down during the last few seconds of its descent.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has not yet officially confirmed the successful landing, but it has been announced on social media by the state-run China Global Television Network (CGTN) and by researchers at Macau University of Science and Technology in China.

China's Mars rover, called Zhurong after an ancient fire god in Chinese mythology, will part ways with the lander by driving down a foldable ramp. Once it has deployed, the rover is expected to spend at least 90 Mars days (or about 93 Earth days; a day on Mars lasts about 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth) roving around on Mars to study the planet's composition and look for signs of water ice. Utopia Planitia is believed to contain vast amounts of water ice beneath the surface. It's also where NASA's Viking 2 mission touched down in 1976.

The six-wheeled rover, which is about the size of NASA's twin Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, carries six scientific instruments on board, including two panoramic cameras, a ground-penetrating radar and a magnetic field detector. It also has a laser that it can use to zap rocks and study their composition, as well as a meteorological instrument to study the climate and weather on Mars.

Zhurong will work in tandem with the Tianwen-1 orbiter to study the Red Planet, and the orbiter will serve as a data relay station for communications between Zhurong and mission controllers on Earth. The orbiter is designed to last for at least one Mars year, or about 687 Earth days.

Tianwen-1 may be China's first Mars landing mission, but it isn't China's first Mars shot. The first, an orbiter called Yinghuo-1, launched in 2011 with Russia's failed Phobos-Grunt Mars sample-return mission, which never made it past Earth's orbit after launch, instead crashing into the Pacific Ocean and destroying the spacecraft.

China is now the second nation to successfully land a Mars rover (NASA has landed five rovers on Mars). The successful orbit insertion of the Tianwen-1 mission in February made China the sixth entity to do so, following NASA, the Soviet Union, the European Space Agency (ESA), India and the United Arab Emirates.

Aside from China and NASA, the Soviet Union is the only other country to have landed a probe on Mars, but that mission (called Mars 3) ended prematurely when the spacecraft failed only a few minutes after it landed. The European Space Agency has attempted two Mars landings, but both spacecraft crashed.

Tianwen-1 is China's first interplanetary mission; until now, Chinese spacecraft haven't ventured beyond Earth's moon, where the nation has successfully landed two rovers as part of its Chang'e program, which most recently brought moon rocks to Earth in December. China is also planning to launch an ambitious Mars sample-return mission in 2028, much like a joint NASA and ESA sample-return mission scheduled to launch that same year.

In the meantime, China is working on building its new space station, the first piece of which launched in April — and caused global panic last week when large rocket debris came tumbling to Earth in an uncontrolled fashion. China is also collaborating with Russia on an asteroid sample-return mission scheduled to launch in 2024.
 

Marc_G

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I hope they release some surface photos soon. Yeah, they will look like all the other martian surface photos... Red dirt, rocks... But I love every one of them.
 

Marc_G

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Hoax is unlikely. We can image every spot on Mars and no way would China go through the embarrassment of being called out on it.

They also just pulled off a nifty Lunar sample return, so they have proven their chops...
 

modeltrains

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Man, this keeps up, the Martians are gonna hafta start putting up traffic lights pretty soon!
 

Zbench

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A great accomplishment! The US would be living on Mars by now if we could harvest the organs of our underclass and sell them for cash and prizes to fund the space program like they do.

 

Engineer457

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I don't think this rover will make more serious and more important inventions than Perseverance had made, but I still glad that the Chinese space industry managed to achieve this kind of success.
 

Antares JS

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I guess destroying this planet isn't enough, but mankind now focuses on another planet. They talk about artificial intelligence we should focus on our own.
As a species, we will expand off of Earth or we will die. We will never solve all of Earth's problems, and people who think we have to solve all of Earth's problems first will only hold us back and destroy us.
 

AfterBurners

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As a species, we will expand off of Earth or we will die. We will never solve all of Earth's problems, and people who think we have to solve all of Earth's problems first will only hold us back and destroy us.
Mankind needs to be destroyed and wiped off the face of the earth!!
 

AfterBurners

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True, that, individually if not collectively. What's your answer? Just curious, no malice intended....
there is nothing good of about 90% of the human race. All they do is rape and destroyed this planet. Just look around. Now these idiots wanna go to another planet and try to destroy it too.
 

Blast it Tom!

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there is nothing good of about 90% of the human race. All they do is rape and destroyed this planet. Just look around. Now these idiots wanna go to another planet and try to destroy it too.
(Channeling Johhny Depp from "Pirates of the Caribbean") "Terraform. Terraform. There's a difference." ;)
Seriously, though, you realize what I've said in other places - mankind's primary problems are moral, not economical or social. And that's about as far as I'll go without risking stirring up the hornet's nest. If you want to discuss privately, that's fine. Like JS I think going to space is a good thing, but it's a slow climb for a while unless some really revolutionary energy source is discovered. Meanwhile we need to take care of the orb we got.
 

Peartree

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(Channeling Johhny Depp from "Pirates of the Caribbean") "Terraform. Terraform. There's a difference." ;)
Seriously, though, you realize what I've said in other places - mankind's primary problems are moral, not economical or social. And that's about as far as I'll go without risking stirring up the hornet's nest. If you want to discuss privately, that's fine. Like JS I think going to space is a good thing, but it's a slow climb for a while unless some really revolutionary energy source is discovered. Meanwhile we need to take care of the orb we got.
My brother liked to point out that "The Earth" doesn't care what humans do. The earth measures time by the millions and billions of years. Whether humans destroy the planet or create a utopian paradise doesn't matter to the planet. The dinosaurs came and went and the earth persisted. The question isn't whether the earth will be here, she will. The question is whether humans would like to be a part of her history for a little longer.
 

MClark

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Have any pictures from the surface of Mars been released?
Seems to be taking a long time.
 

kuririn

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Chinese government is not as open and transparent as NASA.
That's why the landing was not telecast live.
If there are successes, you'll hear about it.
If there are failures, not so much.
 

dr wogz

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I do wonder if these rovers will soon be tasked with planting flags (every 100 ft or so..) as they wander & explore.. and making rectangular paths to slowing "outline" .....
 

Marc_G

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