China lands on Mars in latest advance for its space program

The landing marks the second spacecraft to land on the red planet in recent months.

China lands on Mars in latest advance for its space program

China has landed a spacecraft on Mars for the first time in the latest advance for its space program.

The official Xinhua News Agency said on Saturday that the lander had touched down, citing the China National Space Administration.

Plans call for a rover to stay in the lander for a few days of diagnostic tests before rolling down a ramp to explore an icy area of Mars known as Utopia Planitia. It will join an American one that arrived at the red planet in February.

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China's first Mars landing follows its launch last month of the main section of what will be a permanent space station and a mission that brought back rocks from the moon late last year.

"China has left a footprint on Mars for the first time, an important step for our country's space exploration," Xinhua said in announcing the landing on one of its social media accounts.

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The US has had nine successful landings on Mars since 1976. The Soviet Union landed on the planet in 1971, but the mission failed after the craft stopped transmitting information soon after touchdown.

A rover and a tiny helicopter from the American landing in February are currently exploring Mars. NASA expects the rover to collect its first sample in July for return to Earth in a decade.

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China has landed on the moon before but landing on Mars is a much more difficult undertaking because it has an extremely thin atmosphere.

Spacecraft must use heat shields for protection from the searing heat of reentry and both retro-rockets and parachutes to slow enough to prevent a crash landing. The parachutes and rockets must be deployed at precise times to land at the designated spot.

Only mini-retro rockets are required for a moon landing, and parachutes alone are sufficient for returning to Earth, which has a much bigger atmosphere.

Source : 9 News More   

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Treasurer defends decision to keep some sick Aussies in India

The Federal Government said it is working to bring more Australians home from India after the first repatriation flight out of the country touched down in Darwin.

Treasurer defends decision to keep some sick Aussies in India

The Federal Government said it is continuing to work to bring more Australians home from India after the first repatriation flight out of the country touched down in Darwin.

Flight QF112 landed in the Northern Territory today at 9.20am (9.50am AEST) where passengers will spend two weeks at quarantine facility in Howard Springs.

However, nearly half of the 150 passengers were not allowed on the plane due to testing positive to COVID-19 prior to departure, or being a close contact of an infected person.

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Of the planned passenger group, 72 were banned from the flight home to Australia. There were 48 people who tested positive for the virus and another 24 family members deemed close contacts.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said defended the decision and said there is still capacity for additional Australians to return home throughout the rest of this month.

"We're following the medical advice and ensuring that we protect Australians here and I'm pleased that first flight has arrived and, obviously, there'll be more flights to come," Mr Frydenberg said.

"We invoked the Biosecurity Act because of the need to protect Australians and to ensure that we were doing everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID."

He said the health standards were set high to protect Australians.

Australia India COVID

"A tragedy for them"

High Commissioner to India Barry O'Farrell said it was tragic for those who were set to be on Australian soil this weekend.

"This is a tragedy for them today, and equally for their families in Australia," Mr O'Farrell said.

"We're in the middle of a COVID crisis here in India and it takes 24 hours at least to get the results of a COVID test, so the likelihood of people quickly taking places on the plane is harder than it seems."

Akriti Gupta from Melbourne hoped to have her results cleared so she can board the plane.

"We are booked for the flight tonight and we are waiting for our COVID results," Ms Gupta told 9News.

"It's very heartbreaking because people here have already quarantined for three days in Delhi and have already said goodbye to their families."

It is not yet known if Ms Gupta was on board the flight.

A positive diagnosis means Aussies will be stuck in India until they recover.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were working to fill the flight with more passengers but the 48-hour pre-flight testing proved an obstacle.

https://twitter.com/MarisePayne/status/1393073873575321601?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Qantas flights heading to India to bring back Australian citizens have also been carrying vital supplies to the subcontinent, including ventilators and oxygen concentrators.

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Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said today's flight will bring the total number of repatriation flights from India to 39.

"These government-facilitated flights will be focused on returning Australian citizens, residents and families who have registered with our high Commission and consular offices within India and will prioritise the most vulnerable people," Ms Payne said.

The next government repatriation flight from India is expected to arrive in Darwin on May 23.

Arrangements for further facilitated flights into Australia are underway.

Source : 9 News More   

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