The Chinese have landed on Mars! The China National Space Administration recently published photos taken by cameras attached to the rover, which showed the obstacle-avoidance equipment and solar panels on the vehicle, as well as the texture of the Martian surface. Named after a mythical Chinese god of fire, Zhurong drove down to the surface of Mars at 10:40 AM Beijing time on May 22.
With this, China joins the United States as the only nations to deploy land vehicles on Mars. The former Soviet Union landed a craft in 1971, but it lost communication seconds later, according to Al Jazeera.
Powered by solar energy, Zhurong is set to study the planet’s surface soil and atmosphere. To add to this, the Chinese rover will also look for signs of ancient life, including any sub-surface water and ice, using a ground-penetrating radar during its 90-day exploration of the Martian surface.
In case you’re wondering, Zhurong will move and stop in slow intervals, with each interval estimated to be just 10 metres (33 feet) over three days. As per one of the engineers involved in the mission, Jia Yang, “The slow progress of the rover was due to the limited understanding of the Martian environment, so a relatively conservative working mode was specially designed.”
Considering the lengths the Chinese have gone through to catch up on the space exploration race, taking it slow on Mars seems like a good decision.China in 2019 became the first country to land a space probe on the little-explored far side of the moon, and in December returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s.
China also plans on launching a crewed orbital station and landing a human on the moon. Given their big plans, slow and steady is the way to go on Mars.