Saturday, May 15, 2021 at 1:33 PM – China makes history as the second country to successfully land a spacecraft on the surface of the planet Mars. The Tianwen-1 probe made a successful landing this Saturday, Beijing time.
Since July, the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA)’s Tianwen-1 probe has been traveling in space with the goal of reaching the red planet. It went into orbit on Saturday, May 15, the evening of Beijing time (May 14 evening, Quebec time), before the long-awaited landing. After displaying its programmed sequence with full autonomy, the probe sent the life signal to the CNSA. This event is even more historic because China was the first country to investigate orbit around Mars and the first country to successfully drive a vehicle on Earth in the first attempt.
Docking site for recent missions to Mars. Mars Card Credits: HRSC FUB / DLR / ESA
Tianwen-1, which welcomes the Jurong remote controlled robot on board, lands on the grounds of “Utopia Planitia”. This place is north of the Zero Crater, where American racing cars perseverance and ingenuity are currently carrying out their own mission. The ground was previously selected as the landing site during the analysis of the planet by a probe in orbit. It is an ideal place for maneuvering as it is low altitude and its relief is flat and practically devoid of stones. The investigation has already released the robot there, which is set to explore the planet Mars.
Example of Tianwen-1 probe and Jurong robot. Credits: China National Space Administration (CNSA) / Twitter
Its target is not much different than NASA. True, Jurong must also find traces of ancient life. He should achieve this by analyzing the soil, climate and rock composition of Mars. He hangs some pictures there to map our neighboring planet. The rover weighs more than 440 pounds and has four solar panels to ensure its power supply. According to the scientists leading the mission, Jurong should work for three months. He is able to perform the first China mission on Mars, thanks to his cameras, his radar and his lasers.
New space race
Example of a future Chinese space center. Credit: UNOOSA / Twitter
By successfully completing this landing, China is once again asserting itself as a serious player in space exploration, not only against the United States, Europe and Russia, but also against private companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin. This is not his first appointment. In 2020, the Asian nation was the first to send bolide to the moon in 40 years, and for the first time in history landed a spacecraft far from our satellite. Most recently, in late April, CNSA built its first space station (SSC), which is expected to be completed in 2022, after several manned and unmanned trips to Earth orbit.
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