On Saturday 15 May, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that the country had landed a robotic spacecraft on Mars. This is an important moment and it could be a taste of things to come.
Until China’s Zhurong rover touched down in the Utopia Planitia region of the Mars, only the US had succeeded in operating on the planet’s surface. Next year, however, a joint mission by the European Space Agency and Russia will attempt to replicate the success.
Launching in September 2022, and touching down in June 2023, ExoMars consists of a rover and a surface science platform. The rover is called Rosalind Franklin and has been built by Airbus Defence and Space in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The platform is called Kazachok and has been built by Lavochkin in Khimki, Russia. Both contain instruments designed to answer whether life has ever existed on Mars. A drill on the rover will penetrate up to 2 metres below the surface, the first time such depths have been explored. Originally planned to launch last year, setbacks with the parachutes and the onset of the pandemic forced a postponement. If successful, it will double the number of space agencies now operating on the surface of Mars.
Source: The Guardian