Anticipation Builds For China's Mars Rover Landing
Faizan Hashmi 1 month ago Fri 14th May 2021 | 01:50 PM
Beijing, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 14th May, 2021 ) :Anticipation mounted Friday for the landing on Mars of China's "Zhurong" rover, a few months behind America's latest probe to the Red Planet, as Beijing presses ahead with its increasingly bold space ambitions.
The spacecraft, which entered Mars' orbit in February, has now reached "crucial touchdown stage" as it prepares to land its rover in a vast northern lava plain known as the Utopia Planitia, the state-run tabloid Global Times said Friday.
Chinese officials have been tight-lipped on the timing of the touchdown but the landing window of mid-May to mid-June has opened, according to China's National Space Administration.
Speculation about a Saturday landing has been rife on social media after a top spaceflight expert estimated the rover -- named after a mythological Chinese fire god -- would reach the surface in the morning Beijing time.
Ye Peijian, a member of the Chinese academy of Sciences and a key researcher on China's lunar programme, said during a Thursday lecture at the Beijing Institute of Technology that the rover would land at about 7:11 am Saturday Beijing time, local media reported.
The tricky landing has been called the "seven minutes of terror" because it happens faster than radio signals can reach Earth from Mars, meaning communications are limited.
The latest successful arrival came in February when US space agency NASA landed its rover Perseverance, which has since been exploring the planet.
The US rover launched a small robotic helicopter on Mars which was the first ever powered flight on another planet.
It is expected to spend around three months there.
China successfully launched the first module of its new space station last month with hopes of having it crewed by 2022 and eventually sending humans to the Moon.
That drew criticism from the United States and other nations for a breach of etiquette governing the return of space debris to earth, with officials saying the remnants had the potential to endanger life and property.