The Chinese Space Administration said on Saturday that China’s first Mars rover has departed from its landing platform and is now roaming the surface of the red planet.

The China National Space Administration said that the solar-powered rover touched the Martian soil at 10:40 am Beijing time (8:10 am U.S. standard time) on Saturday.

China landed the spacecraft with a Mars rover on Mars last Saturday. This is a technically challenging feat, more difficult than landing on the moon. This is the country’s first time. It is the second country after the United States to land and operate a spacecraft on Mars.

The Ranger was named after Zhu Rong, the Chinese god of fire, and had undergone a few days of diagnostic tests before the exploration began on Saturday. It is expected to be deployed for 90 days to find evidence of life.

The United States also has ongoing missions to Mars, including the Perseverance rover and a small helicopter exploring the planet. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) predicts that the rover will collect its first samples in July and return to Earth as early as 2031.

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China has developed an ambitious space program, which includes launching manned orbital stations and landing humans on the moon. China became the first country to conduct space exploration on the undeveloped far side of the moon in 2019, and in December it returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s.


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