BAIYIN, GANSU PROVINCE, CHINA: ( World View Media, CCTV , Reuters)
China’s Mars expedition is a difficult feat expected to shed light on many fundamental scientific questions, said an American geological professor in an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN) on Sunday.
Eight days earlier, China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 touched down at its pre-selected landing area in Utopia Planitia, a vast plain on the northern hemisphere of Mars, marking the first time that the country has landed a probe on a planet other than Earth.
The rover Zhurong has driven down from its landing platform to the Martian surface, starting its journey to explore the fourth planet from the sun, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced on Saturday.
It was the first step in China’s planetary exploration of the solar system.
Jim Head, professor in Geological Sciences at Brown University, was all excited about the distinctive achievement, which he believed to bring more clues to essential scientific topics from the area human beings have never been before.
“We’re all really excited about this because this is a scientific expedition, very comparable to many of the ones that we’re trying to do in other parts of Mars, but unique in its own right. For example, it landed in the northern lowlands, which is below what is believed to be an ancient shoreline, so it may be actually on the floor of an ancient billions-of-year-old ocean, and we’re very excited about that. We haven’t really been in this area before like this, and it’s got a lot of promise for fundamental scientific questions like the origin of life, for example,” said the professor.
The CNSA this week has released the first images captured by the Mars probe. As a geologist, Professor Head is more looking at the rocks and is expecting more detailed information on Mars from the new images.
“We can tell from the multi spectral images and the instruments what these rocks are made of, and that’s really important. Is it sedimentary rocks? Is it a lava flow? Is it some combination of these? And of course we’ll be looking at the images to determine what in fact. There could be fossils there, there could be fossils, so we’ll be looking for those obviously as well. In addition to that, the ground penetrating radar will give us an idea whether there’s ice, maybe a frozen ocean below. So this is very, very exciting,” he said.
He thought the Chinese Mars landing to be an extraordinary feat as it finished extremely difficult steps including traveling the long distance and going through the hot atmosphere. He hailed the Chinese scientists for their capabilities of overcoming all the difficulties.
“It is really a difficult feat, there’s no question about that. This is a long distance away and indeed it is really hard to go through the atmosphere. You arrive at a very high rate of speed and then you have to slow down and then have a parachute to descend to the surface. Each of these steps is incredibly difficult. They [China scientists] really showed the capabilities they have to go through a series of complex tasks to really accomplish the scientific objectives. So it’s, it’s a real major, major accomplishment,” said the professor.
There has been space race among countries for decades. But Professor Head held that despite competitions, the global scientists should and do collaborate in their exploration of the unknowns.
“Scientists communicate all over the planet. I mean, that’s the whole idea. You’re trying to understand the unknown. And the unknown is huge. We have all these planets out here. We have the history of the Earth. And so we collaborate internationally. It’s really the way we accomplish things. So we’re really excited about this, and I work with my Chinese colleagues, we talked about the potential landing sites on the Moon, on Mars, and we hope to do all this together. There is competition, obviously, but we hope it doesn’t get in the way of really good cooperation and collaboration,” he said.
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