Jin Li Wang / AP
China landed a spacecraft for the first time on Mars on Saturday, a far more difficult technical feat than the lunar landing in the latest phase for an ambitious goal in space.
The plan calls for the rover to stay in the lander for a few days to perform diagnostic tests before rolling down a ramp to explore an area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia.It will join the American rover. Who reached the red planet in February
China’s first Mars lander following the launch last month of the core part of what will be a permanent space station and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year.
“China has left a footprint on Mars for the first time, a milestone for our country’s space exploration,” the official Xinhua news agency said in an announcement of the landing on a social media account.
The United States has had nine successful landings on Mars since 1976.The Soviet Union landed on Earth in 1971, but the mission failed after the spacecraft stopped sending data shortly after a touchdown.
A rover and a small helicopter from the American landing in February are exploring Mars.NASA expects the rover to collect its first samples in July to return to Earth in a decade.
China had previously landed on the moon. But landing on Mars is a much more difficult task. The spacecraft uses a shield to block heat from entering the Martian atmosphere and uses both retro rockets and parachutes to slow down enough speed to prevent landing. The parachute and the rocket must be deployed at the precise time to land at the specified point Only mini-retro rockets are required for the moon landings, and skydiving alone is enough to return to Earth.
Xinhua said the capsule entered the Martian atmosphere at an altitude of 125 kilometers (80 miles), starting the so-called. “The most risky stage of all missions”
Xinhua said a 200-square-meter (2,150-square-foot) parachute was used and subsequently dropped, and the retro rockets were fired to slow the craft to almost zero. The craft floated about 100 meters (330 feet) above the water to identify an obstacle before it touched its four bumper legs.
“Each step has one chance and the action is closely linked, if there are any flaws, the landing will fail,” said Geng Yan, an official with the China National Space Administration, according to Xinhua.
The touchdown is 7:18 p.m. Beijing time (11:18 p.m. Friday GMT, 7:18 p.m. EDT), though more than an hour has passed before ground controllers can confirm that the landing was a hit. A success, but Xinhua said, the rover had to turn on its solar panels and antennas, and then it took more than 17 minutes for its signal to travel the distance between Mars and Earth.
China’s President Xi Jinping in a letter congratulated the mission team called the landing. “An important step in our international planetary expedition, recognizing the leap from the Earth-Moon to the planetary system and leaving the footprint of the Chinese people on Mars for the first time … It can always be your outstanding! “
NASA Assistant Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen tweeted his congratulations, saying: “Together with the global scientific community, I look forward to making important contributions to this mission to better understand humanity’s red planet.”
China’s Mars landings are the most popular topic on Weibo, the leading social media platform, as people express their excitement and pride.
The Tianwen-1 spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since February, arriving after 6 1/2 months of travel from Earth.Xinhua described the mission as China’s first planetary exploration.
The rover, named after the Chinese god of fire Zhurong, is expected to be put into operation for 90 days in search of evidence of the living. Regarding the size of the small car, it has a ground penetrating radar, a laser and a sensor to measure the atmosphere and magnetic spheres.
China’s space program goes more cautiously than the United States and the Soviet Union during an increasingly competitive space race.
The launch of the core module for China’s space station in April marks the first of 11 planned missions to build and supply the station and deploy three crew members by the end of next year. While the successful launch of the module, the uncontrolled return of the rocket received international criticism, including NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
China says it wants to bring people to the moon and possibly build a science base there. There is no timeline for these projects. It is also reported that the space plane is under development.
Associated Press researcher Henry Hou, News Assistant Caroline Chen, and video reporter Sam McNeil contributed to the report.