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China is landing on Mars in advance for its space ambitions

BEIJING (AP) – China landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time on Saturday, a technically more difficult challenge than landing on the moon, the last step in its ambitious space mission.

Planners require the astronaut to stay in the landing for several days before conducting diagnostic tests to explore an area of ​​Mars known as the Utopia Planet. It will join the American rover, which arrived on the red planet in February.

China’s first Mars landing follows the launch of the main body of its permanent space station last month, a mission to bring back the rocks of the Moon late last year.

“For the first time, China has left its mark on Mars, which is a significant step for our country’s space exploration,” the official Xinhua news agency said in a statement on its social media.

The United States has made nine successful landings on Mars since 1976. The Soviet Union landed on the planet in 1971.

A rover փոքրիկ a small helicopter from a US landing in February is currently exploring Mars. NASA expects the astronaut to assemble his first specimen in July to return to Earth in a decade.

China has landed on the Moon in the past, but landing on Mars is a much more complicated task. Spaceships use shields to protect the Martian atmosphere from extreme heat; they use both retro rockets and parachutes to slow them down enough to prevent them from crash-landing. Parachutes և missiles must be deployed at the right time to land on the spot. Only mini-retro rockets are required to land on the moon, only parachutes are enough to return to Earth.

Xinhua said the entrance capsule entered the Martian atmosphere at an altitude of 125 kilometers (80 miles), beginning what it calls “the most dangerous phase of the entire mission.”

A 200-square-meter (2,150-square-foot) parachute was installed, which was later dismantled and then fired a retro rocket to slow the craft to almost zero speed, Xinhua said. The craft hovered about 100 meters (330 feet) above the surface to detect obstacles before touching the four buffer legs.

“Each step had only one opportunity, the actions were closely linked. “If there was a defect, the landing would have failed,” said Geng Yang, an official with China’s National Space Administration, according to Xinhua.

Touchdown at 7 am Beijing time. It was 18 (Friday 23:18 GMT; 19:18 EDT in the evening), although more than an hour had passed before land controllers could confirm the landing was successful, Xinhua said. The Ro spacecraft had to turn on its solar panels and antenna, and then it took more than 17 minutes for its signals to cross the distance between Mars and Earth.

In a congratulatory letter to the mission team, Chinese President Xi Jinping described the landing as “a significant step in our country’s interplanetary reconnaissance journey, realizing the leap from the Earth’s moon to the planetary system, leaving the Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time.” The հայր Motherland և people will always remember your outstanding feats. ”

NASA Assistant Administrator Thomas Urb Urbuchen wrote in his congratulatory message on Twitter: “Together with the global scientific community, I look forward to the significant contribution that this mission will make to the perception of humanity on the Red Planet.”

The landing of Mars in China was the main trend of Weibo, the leading social media platform, as people expressed “excitement” and “pride”.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft has been orbiting Mars since February, when it arrived from Earth after a journey of 6 1/2 months. The Xinhua mission was described as China’s first planetary exploration.

A rover named after the Chinese fire god hur urong is expected to be stationed for 90 days in search of evidence of life. In the size of a small car, it has an underground radar, lasers, sensors to measure the atmosphere, the magnetic field.

During the space race, China’s space program went more cautiously than the United States: the Soviet Union.

The launch of the main module of the Chinese space station in April is one of the first 11 planned missions, which is planned to build, secure the station, send three crew members by the end of next year. Before the module was successfully launched, the uncontrolled return of the rocket to Earth brought international criticism, including from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

China has said it wants to land people on the moon, possibly building a science base there. No schedule has been published for these projects. The spacecraft is also reportedly under development.

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Associated Press researcher Henry Howe, news assistant Caroline Chen, and video journalist Sam McNeill contributed to this report.

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