China successfully lands its Zhurong rover on Mars

The successful touchdown took place at Utopia Planitia

China has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars, state media confirmed early on Saturday.

The six-wheeled Zhurong robot used a combination of a protective capsule, a parachute and a rocket platform to make the descent.

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The successful touchdown took place at Utopia Planitia, a vast terrain in the planet’s northern hemisphere.

The robot’s name, Zhurong, means God of FIre (Photo by NASA/Getty Images)

17 minutes to send signal back to Earth

The spacecraft officially landed Friday (14 May) at 11pm GMT, according to state media. The spacecraft took 17 minutes to unfold its wings and send a signal back to Earth.

The robot’s name, Zhurong, means God of FIre. The craft was carried to Mars on the Tianwen-1 orbiter, which arrived above the red planet in February.

The probe then spent time surveying Utopia, taking high-resolution images to pinpoint the safest place to put the rover down.

The aim with all such ventures is to pick a spot that is devoid of imposing craters and where the landscape isn't covered in large boulders.

Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated the mission team on their "outstanding achievement" in a special message.

"You were brave enough for the challenge, pursued excellence and placed our country in the advanced ranks of planetary exploration," he said.

Thomas Zurbuchen, the head of science at the US space agency (Nasa), was quick also to add his own congratulations.

"Together with the global science community, I look forward to the important contributions this mission will make to humanity's understanding of the Red Planet," he said.

The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, said the success augured well for its future cooperation with China.