When it comes to Mars missions, one cannot help but recall the recent headlines involving NASA’s Perseverance Mission. However, China is now the third country to reach the red planet. More than a week ago, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has confirmed its Tianwen-1 has successfully landed its first rover on Mars, according to sources.
Tianwen-1, which means “heavenly questions” from a poem by Qu Yuan, is the country’s first mission on the red planet. Landing on the Martian surface proved difficult, with only half of the overall trips on Mars being successful. If one can recall, NASA was the first one to land on the Martian surface, back in 1973.
No Room For Error
As soon as it hit the Martian atmosphere, the so-called seven minutes of terror began. The lander-rover duo then slammed into Mars ‘tenuous atmosphere. After successfully punching through, a parachute was released to help slow the vehicle down.
Zhurong’s landing was different from that of NASA’s Perseverance in February. The NASA rover was lowered carefully to the surface by the use of the “sky crane” method, which saw the rover touching down softly into an ancient Martian crater.
Although the descent was similar to Perseverance, the Chinese rover did all the work. Named after the god of fire, Zhurong carried six scientific instruments including lidar to navigate the surface. After landing successfully, Zhurong rolled out into Mars and began its mission.
The landing site was in Utopia Planitia, the same region where the Viking 2 lander once touched down in 1976. The Viking 2 was a particularly interesting one because it suggested that Mars might have contained signs of life.
What The Tianwen 1 Mission Is All About?
The Tianwen-1 mission will focus on studying the Martian soil and atmosphere. The solar-powered rover will also look for possible signs of ancient life and any sub-surface water and ice using GPR (ground-penetrating radar). China plans for the Zhurong rover to spend at least 90 sols on the red planet.
According to a source, the rover moves in just 10-meter intervals over three days. The reason for the “slow and conservative” pace is due to the limited understanding of the Martian environment. However, the rover contained many advanced techs to help it survive and adapt to the harsh Martian environment.
For example, Zhurong has an automated suspension system to lift or lower its chassis by 60 cm. It’s also covered by a nano-aerogel to protect its body against the cold.
We’ll surely include a live stream link if more updates become available, but if China’s moon missions are anything to go by, don’t expect to see too much until the landing has been confirmed. For those who want to stay up-to-date regarding future space missions, I’d suggest following us here at TechsnGames.
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