Society

Mars rover Perseverance now has company

The mars rover that the States have launched, perseverance, now has some company of other rovers. A Chinese spacecraft descended through the thin Martian atmosphere and landed safely on a large plain on Friday 19:18 pm EST, accomplishing what only two other nations had before. This launch follows the launch last month of the core module of the new orbiting system, as well as the launch last December that carried rocks and soil from the moon to earth. The Chinese rover reached Mars orbit in February, and has been in orbit ever since.  Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, offered his congratulations to China. “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,” 

This mission is named the “Tianwen 1” mission. It had launched from Earth last July and traveled a year to finally land on Mars’s surface. The mission consists of an orbiter, lander, and rover. The orbiter functions to successfully send the lander to Mars orbit, and the lander to land the rover on Mars. The lander is named “Zhurong”, named after the Chinese fire god in folktales. It is 240 kilograms, being heavier than Spirit and Opportunity, but one-fourth lighter than Perseverance and Curiosity. 

The rover landed in this region called Utopia Planitia, Nowhere Land Plain, a huge basin a couple of thousand miles wide in the northern hemisphere that was most likely carved out by a meteor impact. The landing on the planet, however, is very dangerous. Nasa engineers refer to it as seven minutes of terror. Spacecrafts descend toward Mars at a very fast speed, and the thin atmosphere can not do enough to slow the trip to the ground. The shock waves of air compressed by the speeding capsule generate extreme heat that must be absorbed or dissipated. A number of Soviet, NASA and European missions have crashed because of it. Only Nasa was able to land the rover more than once, and China has never landed one before. China has, however, been able to land their rover and give perseverance a friend.

Cites: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/14/science/china-mars.html

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