The space race is, again, at its best. The Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) has announced that the explorer Zhurong landed at 23:18 GMT this Friday, May 14, on a plain of Utopia Planitia, in the northern hemisphere of the Red planet.
China’s first Martian mission
The lander carrying Zhurong completed the treacherous descent through the Martian atmosphere using a parachute to get through the “seven minutes of terror.” aiming at a vast northern lava plain.
China is therefore the first country to carry out an orbiting, landing and displacement operation during its first mission to Mars, a feat unmatched by the only other two nations to have reached the Red Planet so far, the United States and Russia. While the now-defunct Soviet Union did land a rover on Mars in 1971, it only lasted a few minutes before the Russian engineers lost all communication with the lander that housed the rover, which means that China is the second nation to successfully operate a rover beyond the Moon.