From Elon Musk to NASA to Saudi Arabia, it seems everyone is seeing potential in Mars. And adding to that list is China whose first mission to Mars will be making its landing on the red planet tomorrow (May 15). China National Space Administration (CNSA) will be administering the landing of its Mars rover Zhurong, attached to the orbiting spacecraft Tianwen-1 which translates to "Quest for Heavenly Truth”, on the surface of the neighbouring planet. As it will detach from Tianwen-1, Zhurong rover will experience the so-called "seven minutes of terror" endured by every Martian exploration robot.
According to People's Daily China, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on Friday that Tianwen-1 will touch down on Mars between May 15 and May 19 BJT.
As it will head towards Mars’ atmosphere, the seven minutes of terror will begin. During this crucial time the lander-rover duo will crash into the shaky atmosphere. However, the rover and the lander are not directly exposed to the atmosphere and are covered in a heat shield. As the duo makes it out of the delicate area, the heat shield will fall away and a parachute will open up to slow the vehicle down.
Zhurong is named after an ancient Chinese God of fire. If it lands successfully, Zhurong will become China’s first rover on Mars. The rover will be making its landing at the Utopia Planitia region of the planet. It is the same region where NASA's Viking 2 lander had touched down in 1976. China will be the second country after the US to attempt a soft landing on Mars. The Tianwen-1 mission was launched in July 2020 and contains three spacecraft: an orbiter, which is now circling Mars, a lander, and a rover. Tianwen has been orbiting Mars since February and has been collecting data for perfect conditions of Zhurong’s landing.
Once it lands on Mars, the Chinese rover will gather data about the Martian soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere, and search for signs of water.
Earlier in February, NASA’s Perseverance rover made its landing. In the same month, the United Arab Emirates became the second country to send its mission to Mars, the Hope Probe.