On May 15, the landing platform of China’s Tianwen-1 mission made a successful landing on Mars. It delivered the Mars rover Zhuzhong to the surface of the Red Planet. Thus, China became the third country (after the USSR and the United States) to make a successful soft landing on Mars.
The entire operation took eight minutes. During this time, the platform capsule, which had previously separated from the orbiting probe, performed aerodynamic braking in the atmosphere, and then dropped the heat shield and released the parachute. After the descent vehicle extinguished most of its velocity, the parachute was released and the braking engines activated. The platform then made a soft landing on the surface, using the autonomous navigation system to select the safest area.
“Zhuzhun” has a mass of 240 kg. The rover will study the Martian soil and look for chemical compounds indicating the possible presence of life. To do so, it is equipped with six scientific instruments, including GPR, detectors of surface compounds and magnetic fields, a weather station, and several cameras. The Chinese rover uses solar panels to generate power. Its nominal operating time should be 90 days.
As for the orbiter, it will also continue its scientific program, which includes imaging the Martian surface, ionosphere studies, remote sensing of surface rock composition and searching for water ice deposits.