China successfully landed a rover, the Zhurong robot, on Mars

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China has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars, the Zhurong robot, in Utopia Planitia, a vast terrain in the planet’s northern hemisphere. The vehicle used a combination of a protective capsule, a parachute and a rocket platform to make the descent. Landing on Mars is notoriously dangerous and more missions have failed than succeeded. Anything entering the atmosphere needs to be slowed down significantly and to get rid of the heat.The operation was a success. With this landing, China becomes the second country to put a rover on Mars, after America. Zhurong means God of Fire. It is an important personage in Chinese mythology and Chinese folk religion. The Zhurong robot is carrying six pieces of scientific equipment. It will survey the surroundings to study Martian soil, geomorphology and atmosphere, and will look for signs of subsurface water ice. Initially, two candidate landing locations were considered for the rover. Utopia Planitia is the largest recognized impact basin in the northern hemisphere of Mars. It is covered by extensive sedimentary materials. Several features in Utopia Basin have been interpreted as morphological indicators of water/ice. The scientific payloads of the Mars rover will choose the time to work according to the environmental conditions.

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There are two Navigation and Terrain Cameras with identical function, performance and interfaces, to conduct three-dimensional panoramic imaging of the Mars surface, study topography and geological structure of the roving area. The Chinese mission on Mars will achieve global and locally detailed surveys from the orbiter and the rover. The results will make significant contributions to Mars science. Recently, NASA achieved an important step too, landing the biggest-ever rover on Mars and its companion, an ingenious helicopter.