China's unmanned spacecraft lands on surface of Mars

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a site on a vast plain known as Utopia Planitia, "leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time," state news agency Xinhua reported.
After more than six months in transit, Tianwen-1 reached the Red Planet in February where it had been in orbit since.(AP)
After more than six months in transit, Tianwen-1 reached the Red Planet in February where it had been in orbit since.(AP)
Published on May 15, 2021 08:44 AM IST
Copy Link
Reuters | , Beijing

An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft successfully landed on the surface of Mars on Saturday, state news agency Xinhua reported, making China the second space-faring nation after the United States to land on the Red Planet.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a site on a vast plain known as Utopia Planitia, "leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time," Xinhua said.

The craft left its parked orbit at about 1700 GMT Friday (0100 Beijing time Saturday). The landing module separated from the orbiter three hours later and entered the Martian atmosphere, the official China Space News said.

It said the landing process consisted of "nine minutes of terror" as the module decelerates and then slowly descends.

A solar-powered rover, named Zhurong, will now survey the landing site before departing from its platform to conduct inspections. Named after a mythical Chinese god of fire, Zhurong has six scientific instruments including a high-resolution topography camera.

The rover will study the planet's surface soil and atmosphere. Zhurong will also look for signs of ancient life, including any sub-surface water and ice, using a ground-penetrating radar.

Tianwen-1, or "Questions to Heaven", after a Chinese poem written two millennia ago, is China's first independent mission to Mars. A probe co-launched with Russia in 2011 failed to leave the Earth's orbit.

The five-tonne spacecraft blasted off from the southern Chinese island of Hainan in July last year, launched by the powerful Long March 5 rocket.

After more than six months in transit, Tianwen-1 reached the Red Planet in February where it had been in orbit since.

If Zhurong is successfully deployed, China would be the first country to orbit, land and release a rover in its maiden mission to Mars.

Tianwen-1 was one of three that reached Mars in February, with US rover Perseverance successfully touching down on Feb. 18 in a huge depression called Jezero Crater, more than 2,000 km away from Utopia Planitia.

Hope - the third spacecraft that arrived at Mars in February this year - is not designed to make a landing. Launched by the United Arab Emirates, it is currently orbiting above Mars gathering data on its weather and atmosphere.

The first successful landing ever was made by NASA's Viking 1 in July 1976 and then by Viking 2 in September that year. A Mars probe launched by the former Soviet Union landed in December 1971, but communication was lost seconds after landing.

China is pursuing an ambitious space programme. It is testing reusable spacecraft and is also planning to establish manned lunar research station.

In a commentary published on Saturday, Xinhua said China was "not looking to compete for leadership in space" but was committed to "unveiling the secrets of the universe and contributing to humanity's peaceful use of space."

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Higher National Diploma (HND) students take part in a demonstration demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country's crippling economic crisis, in Colombo on May 21, 2022. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

    In crisis-hit Sri Lanka, state of emergency lifted: 5 key developments

    Embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had announced a state of emergency with effect from May 6 midnight, almost a month after imposing the first phase, on April 1. Citing an improvement in the law and order situation, the Presidential Secretariat announced emergency had been lifted with effect from Friday midnight, local media reported. Under the state of emergency, police and security forces had sweeping powers to arbitrarily arrest and detain people.

  • Besides participating in the third Quad Leaders Summit, Prime Minister Modi will have bilateral meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden in Tokyo. (HT FILE PHOTO.)

    Quad Summit to focus on key challenges, ways to keep Indo-Pacific free and open

    The Quad Leaders Summit in Tokyo next week will discuss challenges and opportunities across the Indo-Pacific and focus on ways to deliver on the vision of a free, open and inclusive region, foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said on Saturday.

  • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison leaves a polling station after casting his vote during the Australian general election in Sydney.

    Australia PM Scott Morrison loses national elections, labor party to take power

    Australia's Labor Party is set to take power for the first time since 2013, as voters booted out Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative government in a shift likely to bring greater action on climate change, women's issues and anti-corruption efforts. The Australian Broadcasting Commission said Labor won at least 72 seats, compared with 52 for Morrison's Liberal-National Coalition, with independents and third parties taking the rest. It wasn't all good news for Labor.

  • Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s former minister for human rights (File Photo)

    Ex-Pak minister Shireen Mazari arrested; kin, party say PTI leader ‘kidnapped’

    According to a <strong>report</strong> in the former miShireen Mazari, Dawn, Pakistan's former minister of human rights in the Imran Khan government which was ousted last monthstody of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE). “Male police officers have beaten and taken my mother away. All I have been told is that Anti Corruption Wing Lahore has taken her,” tweeted Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir, Mazari's daughter.

  • Attendees at the the Liberal National coalition party election night event in Sydney, Australia, on Saturday, May 21, 2022.&nbsp;

    Australian election: Early vote count indicates close contest

    There was no uniform swing in early counting of votes in Australia's election on Saturday, indicating a close result in a tight race that will decide whether Prime Minister Scott Morrison's conservative government can defy odds and rule for a fourth three-year term. Opposition leader Anthony Albanese's center-left Labor Party ended the six-week campaign as a favorite to win its first election since 2007.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, May 21, 2022