China landed its Mars rover on the first try

China’s Zhurong rover landed safely on Mars on May 15, making China only the third country to land a rover on the red planet successfully.

More impressively still, China is the first Mars-going nation to carry out an orbiting, landing, and rovering operation as its first mission.

Planetary scientist Roberto Orosei told Nature China is “doing in a single go what NASA took decades to do.” At the same time, astrophysicist Jonathon McDowell described China’s decision to include a rover in its maiden Mars outing as a “very gutsy move.”

Zhurong, named after the god of fire in Chinese mythology, separated from the Tianwen-1 orbiter and touched down close to the site of previous NASA missions on a vast plain called Utopia Planitia.

This Mars area had formed billions of years ago when a Martian meteorite smashed into the planet’s surface. As a result, the surrounding area is largely featureless, covered mostly in volcanic material.

Zhurong is not the first rover to explore this region. In 1976, NASA’s Viking 2 lander touched down further north within the Utopia Planitia basin, returning high-resolution images of the martian surface and analyzing soil samples.

The Viking 2 lander lacked the ability to investigate any further than its initial landing site. But the Zhurong rover should be well equipped to roam farther afield during its mission.

China landed its Mars rover on the first try
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Thomas Burn is a blogger, digital marketing expert and working with Techlofy. Being a social media enthusiast, he believes in the power of writing.

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