China has managed to land its first lander on Mars: this is what is expected of it

Last Friday night China became the third nation after the United States and the Soviet Union to land on Mars. A historical milestone considering that it is also his first attempt. Now what are China’s plans now that it has reached the Red Planet?

China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft arrived on Mars in February along with the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The United States with Perseverance has already landed taking all the media attention, that of the United Arab Emirates is more of a probe around the planet and that of China … China’s is part of a more complex mission.

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A probe, a lander and a rover

In its bid to conquer Mars, China has gone all out. Unlike Perseverance or Hope, Tianwen-1 is a complex three-artifact system for Martian exploration. The ship arrived in February and began to orbit the planet, now in May the lander has landed and will analyze the Martian surface with its rover, but there is also a probe that will continue to orbit the planet even if the lander has landed. Three teams, one mission.

The last friday China reported that its lander had successfully landed on Utopia Planitia, a volcanic area believed to contain ice inside. By dropping the Zhurong lander, Tianwen-1 has completed the most complicated and critical stage of its mission of more than 10 months since it left Earth.

Similar to NASA landings, the Zhurong module it passed through the atmosphere protected by a heat shield. As soon as it got close enough to the surface, it deployed a parachute to slow the fall and finally small booster rockets to land softly. So smoothly that at 100 meters of altitude it remained in the air at times until it found a flat, rock-free surface by a radar system to land on.

Exploring the geological secrets of Utopia Planitia

The landing place of the lander is Utopia Planitia, an area relatively close to where Perseverance landed and somewhat further away from other missions such as InSight, Curiosity or Opportunity.

Utopia Planitia stands out for its geological activity, astronomers and researchers believe that this part of the planet’s northern hemisphere may contain permafrost and, consequently, remains of life. It is a volcanic area and it is believed that an object of considerable size impacted with Mars in the past to form the basin of the place.

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In the next few days the Yutu-2 rover will leave the lander and begin to explore the area, monitor it and collect data. Zhurong is equipped with multiple tools, highlighting a multispectral camera, navigation cameras, a magnetometer, a radar or temperature sensors.

Meanwhile, from the orbit of Mars, the Tianwen-1 probe will send the data collected by Zhurong back to Earth. But that’s not his only job, the probe also has scientific instruments to monitor and study the planet from above.

Humanity has not yet set foot on Mars and, in all probability, has already contaminated it

On Magnet Humanity has not yet set foot on Mars and, in all probability, has already contaminated it

China, like NASA, aims to bring samples from Mars to Earth by the end of this decade. A spectacular feat that will undoubtedly turn both world superpowers on their heads in space exploration.

Via | Space

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by Cristian Rus.

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