CHINA has once again proved its credentials as a leader in the realm of science and technology on Saturday when its spacecraft landed on the surface of Mars making it the second space-faring nation after the United States to land on the Red Planet.
According to state news agency Xinhua, the Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a site on a vast plain known as Utopia Planitia, leaving a Chinese footprint on Mars for the first time.
This is, indeed, one of the greatest technological feats of China but more important are its aims and objectives that place it on higher moral pedestal as Beijing declared that it was “not looking to compete for leadership in space” but was committed to “unveiling the secrets of the universe and contributing to humanity’s peaceful use of space”.
This is in sharp contrast to some other countries with active programmes designed to dominate the space for considerations other than welfare of humanity.
The six-wheeled rover, which is about the size of NASA’s twin Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, carries six scientific instruments on board, including two panoramic cameras, a ground-penetrating radar and a magnetic field detector.
it also has a laser that it can use to zap rocks and study their composition as well as a meteorological instrument to study the climate and weather on Mars.
It is expected to spend at least three months there roving around on Mars to study the planet’s composition and look for signs of water ice. Utopia Planitia is believed to contain vast amounts of water ice beneath the surface.
The successful landing is reflective of higher quality of scientific and technological research and development, which was previously considered to be the domain of some Western countries alone.
Aside from China and NASA, the Soviet Union is the only other country to have landed a probe on Mars, but that mission (called Mars 3) ended prematurely when the spacecraft failed only a few minutes after it landed.
The European Space Agency has attempted two Mars landings, but both spacecraft crashed.
China has an elaborate space programme – it is building a new space station and is collaborating with Russia on an asteroid sample-return mission scheduled to launch in 2024.
China’s latest achievement is a piece of good news for the international community as Beijing has a history of sharing its technology, innovations and their benefits with the rest of the world.
China has a long and illustrious history of inventions as its earliest technologies like paper and gun powder have changed the world in many ways while it is also considered a leader in four new great inventions including high speed railway, online shopping, mobile payments and sharing bikes.
We hope that Pakistan’s Ministry of Science and Technology, especially SUPARCO, would enter into meaningful cooperation with their Chinese counterparts under the universally known and widely acclaimed philosophy of President Xi Jinping – the shared prosperity.