The solar-powered rover, named Jurang, will now inspect the landing area before taking off from its platform.
The state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday that a spacecraft had successfully landed on the surface of Mars.
The Tianwen-1 spacecraft landed on a site in a vast plain called Utopia Planetia, “the first Chinese track on Mars,” Xinhua said.
The craft took off from its parked orbit around 17:00 GMT Friday (Beijing time 1am Saturday).
The landing block separated from orbit three hours later and entered the Martian atmosphere, the official China Space News reported.
It said the landing process had a “nine-minute terror” when the volume decreased and then slowly descended.
The solar-powered rover, Jurong, will now inspect the landing site before taking off from its base. Named after the fire of a mythical Chinese god, Jurang has six scientific instruments, including a high-resolution landscape camera.
The rover will study the surface soil and atmosphere of the planet. Jurong will use ground-penetrating radar to search for signs of ancient life, including water and ice on any sub-surface.
Tianwen-1, or “Questions for Heaven,” named after a Chinese poem written over two thousand years ago, was China’s first independent mission to Mars. A study launched in conjunction with Russia in 2011 failed to leave Earth’s orbit.
The five-ton spacecraft exploded from the southern Chinese island of Hainan in July last year, when it was launched by a powerful Long March 5 rocket.
After more than six months of orbit, Tianwen-1 reached Mars in February, after which it was in orbit.
If Jurang is successfully halted, China will be the first country to orbit, land and release a rover on its maiden voyage to Mars.
Tianwen-1 is one-third of those that reached Mars in February, 2,000 km from Utopia Planetia. The American rover’s diligence successfully touched down on February 18 in the great depression of the distant Jessero Greater.
Hope – the third spacecraft to land on Mars in February this year – was not designed for landing. Launched by the United Arab Emirates, it currently collects information about its weather and atmosphere above Mars.
The first successful landing was made by NASA’s Viking 1 in July 1976, and then by Viking 2 in September of that year. The Mars Exploration Program, launched by the former Soviet Union, landed in December 1971, but lost communication within seconds of landing.
China is pursuing an ambitious space program. It is testing a reusable spacecraft and plans to establish a team lunar research station.
In a statement released on Saturday, China said it “does not want to compete for leadership in space” but has promised to “uncover the secrets of the universe and contribute to the use of humanity’s peaceful space.”