What We Know About China’s Mars Rover Zhurong Touchdown

Touchdown on the pink planet is perilous — NASA engineers confer with it as seven minutes of terror when its rovers, most lately Perseverance, arrive.

As a result of Tianwen-1 was already in orbit round Mars, its incoming velocity was not fairly as quick as Perseverance’s. Thus, China’s lander required a bit of additional terror — 9 minutes — for the touchdown, The International Instances, a newspaper managed by the Communist Occasion, reported on Friday, citing specialists. The probe was additionally working by itself, as indicators at the moment take 17 minutes 42 seconds to journey between Mars and Earth.

Spacecraft descend towards Mars at a excessive velocity, and the skinny ambiance doesn’t do sufficient to gradual the journey to the bottom. The shock waves of air compressed by the dashing capsule generate excessive warmth that have to be absorbed or dissipated. Various Soviet, NASA and European missions have crashed.

Solely NASA has reached the floor of Mars intact greater than as soon as. The landings of its largest rovers, Curiosity and Perseverance, have relied on parachutes to gradual the spacecraft, shields to dissipate the warmth from atmospheric friction and complex methods known as sky cranes. These have been principally rocket-powered jetpacks carrying the rovers beneath them and decreasing them to the floor on cables earlier than flying safely away from the touchdown zone.

“For our nation’s first Mars exploration mission, we didn’t have first hand knowledge in regards to the atmosphere on Mars, particularly the ambiance,” Chen Baichao, a senior designer for the mission, mentioned in remarks reported by The Paper, a Shanghai-based information website. “So it was tantamount to us coming into a totally unknown atmosphere, and you may think about how troublesome that’s.”

The International Instances reported that Tianwen-1 probe lowered its altitude from its parking orbit earlier than its lander-rover mixture separated with the orbiter at round 4 p.m. Friday Jap time. (In China it was 4 a.m. Saturday.)

The orbiter then rose and returned to its parking orbit about half an hour after the separation, to supply relay communication for the touchdown craft combo, the Chinese language area company informed The International Instances. The lander-rover mixture circled Mars for one more three hours earlier than its entry into the Mars ambiance en path to touchdown.

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