China’s Zhurong rover left its landing platform and drove on the surface of Mars.
On May 15, the six-wheel solar-powered rover, which weighs about 240 kilograms, touched down on Mars. Its mission is intended to last three months, the Chinese government said, during which time it will search for signs or evidence of ancient life on Mars.
Big leap for China
This is China’s first mission to Mars and China became the third country after Russia and the United States to have landed. “It is indeed a big leap for China as they did it in a single go what NASA took decades for”, says Roberto Orosei, a planetary scientist at the Institute of Radioastronomy of Bologna in Italy.
China’s biggest test
The Tianwen-1 mission included an orbiter, a lander and a rover — making it the first to send all three elements to the planet. The spacecraft departed Earth in July 2020 and arrived at Mars in February 2021, but the landing was the biggest test yet of China’s nascent deep-space exploration capabilities.