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China's Zhurong Rover Touches Down on Red Planet

China's Zhurong Rover Touches Down on Red Planet

Saturday, 15 May, 2021 - 06:30
A replica of the Tianwen-1 Mars rover is displayed during an exhibition inside the National Museum in Beijing, China March 3, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

China's probe to Mars touched down on the Red Planet early Saturday to deploy its Zhurong rover, state media reported.


The lander carrying Zhurong completed the treacherous descent through the Martian atmosphere using a parachute to navigate the "seven minutes of terror" as it is known, aiming for a vast northern lava plain known as the Utopia Planitia.


It "successfully landed in the pre-selected area", state broadcaster CCTV said, launching a special TV program dedicated to the mission called "Nihao Mars" ("Hello Mars").


The official Xinhua news agency cited the China National Space Administration (CNSA) in confirming the touchdown.


It makes China the first country to carry out an orbiting, landing and roving operation during its first mission to Mars -- a feat unmatched by the only other two nations to reach the Red Planet so far, the US and Russia.


President Xi Jinping sent his "warm congratulations and sincere greetings to all members who have participated in the Mars exploration mission", Xinhua reported.


China has now sent astronauts into space, powered probes to the Moon and landed a rover on Mars, the most prestigious of all prizes in the competition for dominion of space.


Zhurong, named after a Chinese mythical fire god, arrives a few months behind America's latest probe to Mars -- Perseverance.


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