China Mars rover Zhurong makes historic landing on the red planet

The arrival of Zhurong on Mars heralds a new era in space exploration for the Chinese space agency. China has become the third nation in human history to safely land on the surface of Mars -- on its first attempt.

The Tianwen 1 spacecraft, which had been orbiting Mars since February, released a shielded capsule to the surface of the red planet on Friday afternoon. Contained within was the rover Zhurong, strapped to the back of a landing vehicle that will deploy the rover to the surface in the coming hours.

Provided the rover rolls off its lander without any trouble, China will follow the US and become just the second nation to have a rover travel across the Martian surface.

The spacecraft is scheduled landing time, according to Chinese space watchers, was 4:11 p.m. PT.

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