China Lands Rover On Mars, Becomes Second Nation To Visit The Red Planet

China has joined the United States in safely sending an unmanned lander to Mars.

The state news agency for China said a rover safely landed on a large plain on Mars early Saturday morning (approximately 7:18 PM ET/4:18 PT Friday). It now joins the United States as the only nations to have visited the red planet.

China has been ramping up its space activities. In February, it announced it was orbiting Mars. Next month, the country’s space program plans to send three astronauts back to space. That follows the collection of moon rocks and the launch of a key space statin component late last year.

The Global Times, a state newspaper controlled by the Communist Party, said that the mission had “spectacularly conquered a new major milestone” with its landing.

The landing raises the stakes for the United States space program, which has had Mars and the moon practically to itself. But Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, was magnamous, on Twitter. “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 wrote on Twitter.

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