The lander carrying China’s first Mars rover has touched down on the red planet, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) confirmed on Saturday morning.
It is the first time China has landed a probe on a planet other than Earth.
“The Mars exploration mission has been a total success,” Zhang Kejian, head of the CNSA, announced at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
After the success was confirmed, the control center in Beijing was filled with cheers and applause.
“It’s another important milestone for China’s space exploration,” he said.
The Tianwen-1 probe touched down at its pre-selected landing area in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain on the northern hemisphere of Mars, at 7:18 a.m. (Beijing Time), the CNSA announced.
It took ground controllers more than an hour to establish the success of the pre-programmed landing. They had to wait for the rover to autonomously unfold its solar panels and antenna to send the signals after landing, and there was a time delay of more than 17 minutes due to the 320-million-km distance between Earth and Mars.
Tianwen-1, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, was launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of southern China’s island province of Hainan on July 23, 2020. It was the first step in China’s planetary exploration of the solar system, with the aim of completing orbiting, landing and roving on the red planet in one mission.