The Chinese remote-controlled Churong probe separated from a landing capsule and landed on Mars on Saturday, making China the first country to finish orbiting the red planet, and then land on its surface on its first mission to explore the planet.
The probe, named after the Chinese “god of fire” in ancient mythology, landed on Mars at 10:40 am Beijing Time (02:40 GMT).
The probe “Chorong” weighs 240 kilograms, and carries 6 scientific instruments, including a high-resolution camera to photograph the terrain, and will study the soil and atmosphere of the planet.
The solar-powered probe will search for signs of ancient life, such as groundwater and ice, using soil-penetrating radar, during a 90-day journey.
The unmanned Chinese spacecraft “Tianwen-1”, launched from the island of Hainan in southern China in July of last year, and after more than 6 months, the spacecraft reached the red planet last February, and it has remained in orbit since then.
On May 15th, the landing capsule carrying the probe detached from the “Tianwen-1” spacecraft and landed in a vast plain known as Utopia Planisha.
China became the second country after the United States to send a probe to land on Mars and maintain contact with it. The Soviet Union sent a vehicle that landed on Mars in 1971, but lost contact with it seconds later.
“Tianwin-1” is one of three vehicles that reached Mars last February. The American probe “Perseverance” landed on the 18th of last February in a huge depression called Jizero Crater, more than 2000 km from the Plain of Utopia Planica.
And the third is the Emirati “Hope” probe, which entered Mars orbit last February, and is currently collecting data on the planet’s climate and atmosphere.
The two spacecraft “Perseverance” and “Chorong” are among the three remote-controlled probes on the surface of Mars, and the third is the “Curiosity” probe of the US Aerospace and Space Administration “NASA”, which landed in 2012.