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Hi Mars! China's probe lands on Mars

Updated: May 15,2021 14:33 PM    CGTN

The lander carrying China's first Mars rover has touched down on the red planet, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) confirmed on the morning of May 15.

It landed on a pre-selected landing zone in the southern part of an icy area of the planet known as Utopia Planitia at 7:18 am, the scientific research team confirmed with the signal sent back by the rover, the first landing on an exoplanet ever by a Chinese vehicle.

Named after the Chinese god of fire Zhurong, the rover will carry out imaging of the landing site, self-check and depart from the landing platform for further expedition.

The rover carried six scientific payloads: a multi-spectral camera, a subsurface detection radar, a Martian surface composition detector and magnetic field detector, a Mars meteorometer, and a terrain camera.

They are expected to provide firsthand materials for research on Mars space environment, surface topography, and soil surface structure, among which, meteorology-related research will collect atmospheric data on temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, as well as the magnetic and gravitational fields on the planet.

Facing the dusty environment on the planet, designers used a new dustproof material for the rover, and even if the rover gets dirtied with the Martian dust, it can shake it off with vibration.

They also kept an identical copy of Zhurong the rover in the lab. If the rover encounters any problem on Mars, the ground crew will conduct simulations for a resolution before issuing instructions to the rover on Mars.

Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, has sent a congratulatory message, tweeting "Congratulations to CNSA's #Tianwen1 team for the successful landing of China's first Mars exploration rover, #Zhurong!"

He added that "Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to humanity's understanding of the Red Planet."

China launched the Mars probe, which consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, on July 23 last year, aiming to complete orbiting, landing and roving in one mission.

The probe entered the parking orbit in February, where it undertook a global remote sensing survey of the planet for nearly three months with its cameras and spectrometers checking the pre-selected landing site and weather for landing.

So far, the probe has been in space for 295 days and is about 320 million kilometers from Earth.