China has been trying to catch up to the major players in the space race for a while now. The country has finally succeeded by becoming the second nation in the world to land a rover on Mars safely. Before China, only the US had rovers on Mars thus China has become the second country to achieve a soft landing on the big red planet. The rover landed last Friday as part of China’s Tianwen-1 mission which launched back in July 2020.
This coupled with China launching the first module for their very own space station means that they are progressing rapidly towards their space exploration goals. Although their re-entry procedures left a lot to be desired as the rocket carrying the module crashed into the Indian Ocean in an uncontrolled re-entry. But now NASA isn’t the only one with rovers on Mars.
The rover is question is named Zhurong, like the Chinese god of fire. The goal of the rover is to accompany a Mars probe to map the surface of Mars and search for signs of life on the planet. Maybe China should team up with the US since scouting a whole planet is no simple task. The China National Space Administration even announced last Friday that their Tianwen-1 has been operating optimally and has already gathered a lot of scientific data.
NASA also congratulated China on their achievement. Thomas Zurbuchen, an associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate said in a tweet that “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”. You can view his tweet below.
Mars is being showered with a lot of attention this year. Even the UAE’s Hope probe entered into an orbit around Mars last Friday. This makes the UAE the fifth country to have a probe orbiting Mars. NASA has been testing and tuning their Perseverance rover for a while and it is being accompanied by the Ingenuity Helicopter.
China is planning to build their own Space Station as soon as possible hoping to catch up to their competitors. Only time will tell who’ll come out first in this space race. Will it be the US who already has a big head start? Or will be Russia or China?
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