By Ryan Woo and David Stanway | Reuters
An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft successfully landed on the surface of Mars on Saturday, state news agency Xinhua reported, making China the second space-faring nation after the United States to land on the Red Planet.
The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a site on the Southern Utopia Plain, “leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time,” Xinhua said.
A rover, named Zhurong, will now survey the landing site before departing from its platform to conduct inspections.
Tianwen-1, or “Questions to Heaven,” after a Chinese poem written two millennia ago, is China’s first independent mission to Mars. A probe co-launched with Russia in 2011 failed to leave the Earth’s orbit.
The 5-tonne spacecraft blasted off from the southern Chinese island of Hainan in July last year, launched by the powerful Long March 5 rocket.
After more than six months in transit, Tianwen-1 reached the Red Planet in February where it had been in orbit since.
Source: Orange County Register