Beijing: China on Saturday successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars, state media announced quoting China National Space Administration (CNSA).
The rover — Tianwen-1 — touched down at its pre-selected landing area in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain on the northern hemisphere of Mars, at 7:18 a.m. (Beijing Time), the CNSA announced.
China is now the second nation to successfully land a Mars rover after United States’ NASA. Interestingly, apart from China and NASA, the Soviet Union had also landed a probe on Mars, however it ended prematurely as the spacecraft failed only a few minutes after it landed.
It took ground controllers more than an hour to establish the success of the pre-programmed landing. They had to wait for the rover to autonomously unfold its solar panels and antenna to send the signals after landing, and there was a time delay of more than 17 minutes due to the 320-million-km distance between Earth and Mars.
The vehicle used a combination of a protective capsule, a parachute and a rocket platform to make the descent. The successful touchdown is a remarkable achievement, given the difficult nature of the task.
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The successful orbit insertion of the Tianwen-1 mission in February made China the sixth entity to do so, following NASA, the Soviet Union, the European Space Agency (ESA), India and the United Arab Emirates.