China’s Mars mission will take an ambitious step forward if it is able to land the Zurong rover on the surface of the red planet on Friday. The mother ship carrying the rover has been in orbit around Mars since February and once the rover is safely on the planet, China would be only the second country after the US to accomplish that feat.
The rover carries six instruments and will land on Mars in a manner similar to the Perseverance rover, using something like a sky crane. It will land on the Utopia Planitia Basin where NASA’s Viking lander touched down in 1976, a ramp will deploy and the rover will roll down to begin work. It is programmed to last 90 Martian sols or days. A typical Martian day lasts a little over 24 hours and 39 minutes.