Back in February, Mars was bustling with activity as spacecraft from three countries arrived in its orbit.
Among those craft was the Tianwen-1 from China. That spacecraft has spent the last three months orbiting Mars, but today it’s expected to plonk a rover down on the planet’s surface.
Anybody who has seen NASA land a rover on the Red Planet will know it’s not an easy feat and according to a report by Cnet, China is taking a different approach compared to the US.
Instead of the sky crane solution that NASA uses, China will use a lander fitted with lidar and cameras to land on the surface safely. From there the rover which has been named Zhurong will rollout Autobot style and begin exploring the Utopia Planitia region of Mars.
This is of course if the landing is successful. Around half of all landing attempts on Mars haven’t been successful and with this being China’s first attempt at a landing, the seven minutes of terror will surely be felt by those responsible for landing the vehicle.
As for watching the landing, that might not be possible until a landing is confirmed by China.
According to Cnet, we can expect a landing at around 23:11 UTC on Friday which is 01:11 on Saturday morning locally.
The region that Zhurong will exploring has been visited once before by NASA’s Viking 2 Lander which observed a thin coat of ice on rocks and soil in the region.
Mars is getting rather busy these days and humans haven’t even physically been there yet.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]