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China’s Tianwen-1 mission underscores historic Mars landings



Marstianwen

Artist’s impression of the three spacecraft China sent to Mars in July 2020.

Natural astronomy

On Friday, the “footprint” of a Chinese robot imprinted on the Martian surface made China the only third nation to safely reach the red planet’s surface. Reaching the surface of other planets

Tianwen-1 spacecraft Which orbits Mars since the month A. WedRelease the shielded capsule to the surface of the Red Planet on Friday afternoon. Contained within is Zhurong roverTied up to the back of a landing craft, operated a parachute, and fired thrusters to slow itself down The official landing time for the spacecraft, according to Chinese media service Xinhua, is 4:18 p.m. PT.

China follows the United States as only the second nation to have a rover to cross the Martian surface.

“China has joined the top clubs in the nations of the space with this historic landing,” said Alan Duffy, a Swinburn University astronomer and lead scientist at the Royal Australian Institute.

There may be high-level celebrations and exchanges in CNSA’s mission control, but the honking or envelope we were accustomed to during the NASA landing was not televised.

“Unlike NASA that published images of the Perseverance Rover’s landings within minutes of their return to Earth via the Deep Space Network, we hear very little from CNSA about the mission,” said David Flannery, a Queensland planetary scientist. say University of Technology and member of the Perseverance team.

“China’s space agency’s reluctance to share cutting-edge information is almost related to fears that mission failures could adversely affect China’s political leaders.”

In lack of data, amateur astronomers listened to telltale radio signals sent back to Earth from the spacecraft to try to see how the mission went.

Zhurong landed in Utopia Planitia, one of Mars’ largest craters. The deceased NASA Viking 2 spacecraft landed in the same crater in 1976.Utopia Planitia is expected to be home to underground ice and could once be covered by the Martian Ocean. Where water once existed, there may be living organisms, Zhurong, as well as NASA’s efforts to explore the area and look for signs of past life.

“Together with the global scientific community, I look forward to making important contributions to this mission to empower humanity to understand the red planet,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s assistant director of scientific missions tweeted Friday.

The past 10 months have been busy exploring Mars.

Three spacecraft, including Tianwen-1, launched to Mars in July 2020.By taking advantage of the Earth’s proximity to the Red Planet The United Arab Emirates ‘hopeful spacecraft, which will explore Mars’ atmosphere from space, entered orbit in February. After a while, NASA’s now famous rolling rover, Persistence and it The brilliance of flightmates that made historyThe surface of Mars landed in an ancient lake that was once inhabited by life on Mars.

Update, May 15: Added external expert opinion.




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