Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

 
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

China’s Zhurong rover successfully lands on Mars

The rover landing site for Tianwen-1's rover

The new colonial movement: China’s today successfully landed its Zhurong rover on the northern lowland plains of Mars dubbed Utopia Planitia.

China’s lander and rover began their descent to the surface at about 4:00 p.m. EDT (2000 GMT) by separating from the Tianwen-1 orbiter, which since March has been used to capture imagery of the targeted landing site for study. An aeroshell protected the stacked probes as they plunged into the atmosphere at 3 miles per second (4.8 km per second), generating tremendous heat in the process.

Once inside the atmosphere, while traveling at supersonic speeds, the spacecraft deployed a 2,150-square-foot (200 sq. meter) parachute to slow its approach to less than 328 feet per second (100 m per second). China based the canopy design on the parachutes it has used on Shenzhou missions to return astronauts to Earth.

Finally, the Tianwen-1 lander fired thrusters similar to the type on China’s Chang’e lunar landers to make the final descent. A laser range finder and a velocity sensor helped guide the craft as it hovered at about 328 feet (100 m) to identify obstacles and measure the slopes of the surface before touching down safely.

We don’t yet know the exact touchdown point. The image above is a mosaic of two wide angle photos from the context camera on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), with the white cross marking the spot previously leaked by the Chinese press as the landing site. The white box shows the area covered by the only high resolution MRO photo, as of October 2020. Since then MRO has taken a number of additional high resolution images of this area. The red boxes are the areas covered by the only two high resolution images released by China from its Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter

Note that the rover is actually not yet on the ground. It still sits on the lander. A ramp will be deployed and it will then roll down on the ground to begin what China says is a planned 90 day mission, with the most important data likely coming from the rover’s ground penetrating radar, looking for underground ice.

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32 comments

  • Congratulations to the Chinese team for an impressive effort. Landings on Mars are not yet certain things, so kudos for getting it right.

    Next challenge: Venus. Although I’d like to see the American’s have a go at that, too.

  • Trent Castanaveras

    Congratulations to China! Being only the second entity to successfully land on Mars is an admirable achievement!

  • Lee Stevenson

    Congratulations to my communist buddies!! ( Only joking! ), But in all seriousness, even achieving Mars orbit is not easy, let alone soft landing. I have said it before, and I will no doubt say it again. Underestimate China’s space aspersions at your peril. If this rover works as planned it will be a massive propaganda coup for the Chinese space agency, and rightly so. They did it. I just hope that they will share data collected with the rest of the world, and given the Chinese eagerness to find partners just now, I am optimistic that they will.

  • James Street

    – Built from stolen technology.
    – Built by Chinese Uighur Muslim slaves.
    – Paid for with profits from fentanyl sales to America.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @Trent Castanaveras, perhaps I’m being pedantic, but the USSR managed one successful soft landing with Mars 3, however the Lander broke down a few minutes after landing. Given the photos from orbit, the UK came within a knats knacker of achieving success with Beagle 2. 2 solar panels failed to deploy and the mission was lost. As it never made contact with Mars Express it has to count as a failure, but the fact it deployed 2 of its 4 panels says it hit the ground softly…. So close, yet literally so far! ( This failure still upsets me 17 years later!)

  • Lee Stevenson

    @James Street,
    Funded, researched and built with many questionable factors. Just landed on Mars.

  • Lee Stevenson

    ( The treatment of Muslims in China is abhorrent, and if they didn’t own so much US debt they might get pulled to task over it. But if you think about it, yours or my telephone, shoes or aftermarket car spares are much more likely to be assembled by a Uighur than is anything that makes it to Mars!

  • wayne

    Lee–
    I know you don’t really mean to disregard all the blood that underlies the CCP.
    A lot of V-2 rockets hit London.

    James-
    Thank you for reminding us all of those inconvenient truths.

    “Carthage, must be destroyed.”

  • Trent Castanaveras

    Lee Stevenson: It’s a good call-out. By what do we measure success? Put one way, every single lander has successfully made it to the Martian surface; some just landed a bit more forcefully than others lol

    According to Wikipedia:
    “In the 1970s, several Soviet Mars and American Viking landers made it to the surface and provided several years of images and data. However, there was not another successful Mars landing until 1997, when Mars Pathfinder landed.[8] In the 21st century there have been several successful landings, but there have also been many crashes.[8]”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_landing

    So, China is actually the third entity with a successful landing!

    P.S. I like my crow lightly salted, on a bun with a side of french fries…

  • Trent Castanaveras

    And I share your Beagle 2 pain. So close! If only they had made the transmitter immediately available! The engineers may have been able to salvage the mission, or parts of it anyway.

  • Taw Jackson

    Technology stolen from the USA, landers built on the backs of slaves, China pollution is worse than LA’s in the 70’s, commie idiots who treat their people like dogs, a society who EATS dogs, and one of the most oppressive societies to ever be on the Earth. Yet, the American left wing nuts honor China like they are an honest country. SAD…. but true.

  • Call Me Ishmael

    “In the 1970s, several Soviet Mars and American Viking landers made it to the surface and provided several years of images and data.”

    And this is why Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for anything that matters. To hear them tell it, the US and the USSR were approximately equal contributors. In fact, the USSR got about 5 seconds of telemetry from one Mars lander (not “several”), and the Vikings (all two of them) provided everything else, including the “several years”.

  • Lee Stevenson

    @Taw Jackson, I understand that tangential argument is one of the most fun aspects of BTB, but foaming at the mouth about China and some of it’s many faults takes nothing away from the fact it’s just landed a rover on Mars. I’m not sure we have spoken before.. I’m an English citizen, and a resident of Sweden. I am very socialist regarding social welfare, and differing grades of socialist regarding other matters. I believe that the Chinese scientists behind this mission deserve respect because they just landed a freekin’ rover on Mars! The Chinese deserve the opposite of respect for many, many other reasons, but that takes nothing away from the success of this mission. ( And eating dogs has very little to do with interplanetary missions)

  • Lee Stevenson

    @wayne…. Of course you are correct. Operation paperclip is just a page in a history book, Volkswagen is just a car manufacturer with a checkered past, just like many of the long-standing English banks… Taw Jackson’s comment about anything (quote) “built on the backs of slaves” seems quite ironic when looked at from a certain angle. The nazi rocket scientists that were the foundation of the US space program were quite aware of where the grunt labor was coming from. Who knows if any of the same applies in China? Non of us, that is for sure. I can be sure that in a couple of hundred years, if there is anyone left to read it, all the above will just be pages in a history book…..

  • Jeff Wright

    They have tighter tolerances you know…;)

  • Alton

    Dang iT😂🤪 I hate to Say Anything that helps Red China BUT:

    Who Owns the Federal Debt???
    Japan holds $1.29 trillion, the largest foreign holding,
    Red China holds $1.08 trillion the second largest.

    The Federal Government almost $11.0 trillion
    With Social Security itself holding $2.90 Trillion. Federal state and local govs hold a lot.

    The LARGEST single entity holding our debt
    IS the Federal Reserve Bank, a US government and 100 member banks consortium at $7 plus TRILLION

    See this rather good listing, for full numbers – digging in several FED databases would be needed.. .

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thebalance.com/amp/who-owns-the-u-s-national-debt-3306124

    A short distribution listing from the above…….

    The Treasury breaks down who holds how much of the public debt in the monthly Treasury Bulletin. Here are highlights from the March 2021 report (September 2020 data unless indicated otherwise):

    Foreign: $7.07 trillion (in September 2020, Japan owned $1.28 trillion and China owned $1.06 trillion of U.S. debt, which is more than a third of foreign holdings)
    Federal Reserve and government: $10.81 trillion (December 2020)
    Mutual funds: $3.5 trillion
    State and local governments, including their pension funds: $1.09 trillion
    Private pension funds: $784 billion
    Insurance companies: $253 billion
    U.S. savings bonds: $147 billion (December 2020)
    Other holders, including individuals, government-sponsored enterprises, brokers and dealers, banks, bank personal trusts and estates, corporate and non-corporate businesses, and other investors: $2.28 trillion
    This debt is not only in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds but also in Treasury Inflation Protected Securities and special state and local government series securities.

    If you add the debt held by Social Security and all the retirement and pension funds, almost half of the U.S. Treasury debt is held in trust for your retirement. If the United States defaults on its debt, foreign investors would be angry, but current and future retirees would be hurt the most.

    ——
    NOTE:. During the 2008 Economic Burp, China sold down it’s holding from about 2.5 T to 0,9 T.
    The Increase in banks, insurance and financial holdings were required by the legislation passed to deal with the Great Recession, and was one of the reasons that huge inflation did not occur,; the created money was soaked back in the feds and governments coffers without entering the private economy.

  • mkent

    Lee: I will admit that landing a rover on Mars is an impressive technological feat, but I won’t congratulate Communist China for it. They have demonstrated over the last few years that they will not shed their tyrannical ways but are instead moving to put more and more people under more and more tyranny. That is far more important than technological feats on Mars.

    But you make a good point. A few years ago their launch rate and the success of their manned space program moved them ahead of Europe into third place in spacefaring ability. With the lunar sample return mission, this landing, and the launch of their space station, it’s clear that this year China is moving into the #2 spot. Russia may have some impressive historical accomplishments, but it’s taken them 20 years to bring their Science space station module to launch readiness, and they haven’t had a successful planetary probe in over 30 years.

    A bipolar frontier does not bode well for the future of mankind.

  • mkent observed: “A bipolar frontier does not bode well for the future of mankind.”

    Let us hope it stays at least that.

  • wayne

    Alton–
    Good stuff.
    (coincidentally– last Fall before the election, I went all in on inflation-protected bonds for the portion of my retirement I don’t ever expect to spend.)
    Oh yeah–the Federal Reserve balance sheet is filled-up (to the Sky) with paper. They will buy practically anything that has been turned into a debt-vehicle, including auto-loan debt and mobile-home debt. (what could possibly go wrong?!)
    Part of the reason the stock-market is so high; we’re in a huge financial-asset bubble.

    Referencing: “default” by the Federal government:
    FDR did that when he seized everyone’s gold, and repriced gold from $20/ounce to $35/ounce.
    (a ‘dollar’ by definition, used to be 1/20th of an ounce of gold)

  • MDN

    It seems strange that they have announced the landing but published no photographs from the surface as yet (over a day later now). Also details on the mission have been scarcer than hens teeth. I did find this article on Nature this morning however that has photos from the Chinese space agency and a technical illustration and description of the rover.

    https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-01301-7

    To the rest of the thread:

    Yes this is a significant accomplishment. It is impossible to deny that China is now a near peer in space technology to the US.

    Reasons to fear this will continue: China graduates about 1M new engineers a year and China believes in meritocratic academics, not the perverted Equity lunacy the US is now adopting. Also, China recognizes the resource bonanza space represents for Terran endeavors and wants to stake their claims on the old school basis of “Possession is 9/10ths of the law.” And they will use that to extreme advantage despite what the UN and international community say about it. We know this because of how they treat the Uighurs, Hong Kong, the South China sea, etc.

    Reasons to be hopeful: Totalitarian bureaucracies suck. It is what destroyed the Russian space program, and sadly our legacy NASA Big Space ventures as well. Be it the Central Committee for the CCP or House and Senate Appropriations, centralized control is expensive, inefficient, slow, and wasteful. Just look at what has happened to Boeing, Lockheed, et al in their years of suckling on Big Space and defense contracts. But, you don’t need millions of people for this war, only a few, and capitalism as Bob points out will marshall the best and brightest faster and better. WE have Elon and SpaceX, and as Bob has chronicled a vibrant and fast evolving commercial space economy. Starlink will be a cash cow that funds SpaceX for the next decade at least, and lunar and asteroid mining will soon follow.

    So in the end we will prevail unless the progressive left continues its rise and our regulatory state decides to forfeit the game because white anglo-saxons are involved. But for that to happen they will have to turn a blind eye to the tax revenue asteroidal minerals will represent which I expect they will likely find even harder to do.
    : )

  • MDM: Those photos at that Nature article come from the Tianwen-1 orbiter, not the lander or rover, and are in fact from a number of weeks ago.

    It is without doubt puzzling that they have not yet released a landing photo. With all their other planetary missions, photos proving the success were issued quite fast, almost instantly.

  • Lee Stevenson

    If I understand correctly, the lander has to open, and then the rover rolls off down a ramp, perhaps they are taking things very slowly? Or they could be telling barefaced lies and the thing is sitting in a crater of its own making?

    @MDN, a nice thoughtful post, most of which I agree with, ( which makes a nice change!), I would argue tho, that expecting the CCP and it’s space program to fail due to eventual bloat, or any other reason for that matter is dangerous. China is experimenting with a form of communism never seen before… “Communism light” …. Never before has a communist regime actually lifted millions of people out of poverty. Just to make myself clear here, I am no communist, I would die on the hills of free speech and democracy. I do however, ( not the first, and not the last time I will say this!) think that underestimating China is done at peril. They are a tech and trade savvy nation, without the moral compass of the free world.

  • Max

    China has more Val Victorian graduates of high school than America has children attending high school… We teach equality, social justice and false history with math that doesn’t need the correct answer. Reading, writing and arithmetic has given way too racism, reproduction and recycling as the stem subjects.

    Laws recently passed allows colleges and universities as well as technology centers to hire foreign workers under visa at 10 to 100 times previously allowed. (Silicon valley is saving a lot of money by outsourcing tax deferred and exempt military and government sponsored/over educated students from China and India replacing the current American workers)

    Most science discoveries have Chinese surnames. Look at the bottom of each article of discoverys found on this site;
    https://www.eurekalert.org/pubnews.php

    Chinese methods are without a doubt unethical. They have no regard for the safety and welfare of the people as evidenced by 50 to 100,000,000 dead in the communist take over, or the millions that have died from unsafe water and air…

    While America is shutting down coal power plants, reducing our carbon footprint… China has 250 coal fire plants under construction even though it already emits twice the carbon of the United States!

    Our current administration is destroying infrastructure in the name of rebuilding it better, tearing down the country from within… Chinese new colonial movement has inroads throughout the world as well as buying up land in America with our own debt.

    The election of Trump gave everyone hope even as he was cut off at the knees at every turn, but it proved we could as a nation rise to the occasion. Every good thing he has done, has been overturned by executive order and Congress.

    Everything that’s been warned about for the future is happening now, the dark age has begun.

    I’m not saying this to depress you, but this lander is only the beginning of what’s to come…

  • James Street

    Speaking of godless commies in space:

    Lt Col. Matthew Lohmeier, Commander of 11th Space Warning Squadron at Buckley AFB, Colorado, Relieved From Duty After Questioning Creeping Marxist Ideology in Military
    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2021/05/16/lt-col-matthew-lohmeier-commander-of-11th-space-warning-squadron-at-buckley-afb-colorado-relieved-from-duty-after-questioning-creeping-marxist-ideology-in-military/

  • As long as individual liberty and initiative are respected in the West, the only way China can outdo us is to emulate that respect.
    Something they have not been inclined to do, so far.

    The problem is that respect for liberty and initiative has been/are being eroded, by our embrace of social technocracy and its preferential treatment of established elites as having all the answers and therefore should be allowed to impose their will upon everyone else … leading to our obsession with initiative-free “equity” over the free expression of individual merit.

  • Edward

    wayne wrote: “FDR did that when he seized everyone’s gold, and repriced gold from $20/ounce to $35/ounce. (a ‘dollar’ by definition, used to be 1/20th of an ounce of gold)

    In the original movie “Unfaithfully Yours,” Rex Harrison tips a bellboy a dollar and says, “Here’s sixty-two and one half cents for you.”

  • Edward, that line is a good take on what FDR perpetrated re: gold.

    In a similar vein … as I walk into work, sometimes I say “Another day, another 65 cents for me, and 35 cents for the government”.

    Of course, that is an optimistic accounting that only covers Federal and NYS income taxes.

  • wayne

    Chinese lander question:

    Do we know for absolute certainty, that this thing is actually, physically, on the planet Mars?
    (If the chinese told me 2+2=4, I’d wonder what sort of lie they were perpetrating.)

    Edward-
    I think I might have that movie in a dvd compilation set. Pending that, I of course will look it up!
    Jester–
    (I’m semi-retired by choice but not yet collecting SS.)
    –Where I’m getting killed (in Michigan) is with property-tax. My “winter” taxes (covers 4 months) went up 40%, and I expect a similar hit this July. I own my house, but it costs me $400+/month in property taxes. (they raised my assessed-valuation as well, my house magically went up 15% in ‘value.’)

  • Max

    Wayne asked;
    “Do we know for absolute certainty, that this thing is actually, physically, on the planet Mars?”

    Glenn Beck was asking the same question on his radio show this morning. BBC apparently said they have live footage of the landing which was obviously a fake, camera set up on Mars witnessed the whole thing minus any dust…
    That footage has been deleted and replaced. No news yet from China that I’m aware of.
    Highly suspicious, not good for public relations. But then when was the Chinese ever worried about public relations? Except in movies, NBA, news articles…

    I am sorry Wayne that so many people have moved from your state that they must raise property tax on everyone else to cover the shortfall. Did the census say that your population increased and you get more congressmen like New York and California?

    Population in Utah has increased one and a half million since the last census, no new congressman. (Fastest growing state in the union) I no longer am surprised to see license plates from all over the country (including Michigan) on a daily basis. A lot of Canadians and Mexican license plates as well…
    High rise, high density housing has gone up everywhere, no building supplies at all in the hardware stores. Building supplies for new construction are being shipped directly from the manufacturer from other states and from overseas.
    Local contractors have given up and violated their building contracts citing not only the unavailability of construction materials, but that the house will cost more than double by completion, than the house was contracted for.

    I receive offers to buy my house daily for years now, both in the mail and unsolicited on my phone. A house going on the market rarely lasts more than a week, with numerous cash offers, some of them as much as 50,000 over asking price. Great houses go for much much more…

    You talked about the value of gold.
    My house was built in a modern subdivision in the early 70s in a farming community 20 miles outside Salt Lake City. New price $20,000.
    Because of Carter inflation…
    I paid 50,000 in 1982. State and city taxes was about $600
    38 years later in the same home, with the city built up around me covering every available square inch of land, it is worth 450,000. Taxes nearing 3000 a year. And with the housing shortage, some of my neighbors have taken the offer to sell for 600,000 (which price will be reflected this fall in my homes worth and new taxes) and a few of them are moving to Texas buying homes for half as much on an acre or 40.

    A special session of Utah legislature is meeting today, our snow pack is about 70% of normal and they’re talking about confiscating the water from the farmers for the new population. Utah farmers will not be able to feed our local population, or their animals, because liberals, pretending to be Republicans are taking control and advantage of their newfound executive powers under the emergency powers act.
    Compared to other states, perhaps we are the lucky ones.
    https://www.iceagefarmer.com/

  • Alton

    Note on CO2…..

    China emissions NOW exceed all developed nations combined.
    And is approaching THREE times the USA.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-57018837.amp

  • wayne

    Max-
    very interesting Utah factoids!

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