China has landed on Mars

A photo of Mars captured by China’s Tianwen-1 probe in February. | Photo: Xinhua via Getty Images

China landed its first pair of robots on the surface of Mars on Friday, state-affiliated media confirmed on social media, becoming the second country to do so successfully after overcoming a daring, seven-minute landing sequence. The country’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft ejected the rover-lander bundle for a Martian touchdown at around 7PM ET, kicking off a mission to study the Red Planet’s climate and geology.

The mission marks China’s first independent trek to Mars, about 200 million miles away from Earth. Only NASA has successfully managed to land and operate rovers on the planet in the past. (The Soviet Union’s Mars 3 spacecraft landed on the planet in 1971 and communicated for about 20 seconds before unexpectedly going dark.) China’s…

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