Tianwen-1 makes China the sixth country in history to reach Mars. The fifth country to do so is the United Arab Emirates whose spacecraft, Hope, entered orbit around the Red Planet yesterday
After a seven-month journey since its launch, the Chinese Tianwen-1 spacecraft arrived at Mars and successfully entered orbit around it in preparation for the landing of a robot on the red planet's soil.
The Tianwen-1 mission, whose name means "quest for heavenly truth" in Chinese, consists of a rover, a lander and a six-wheeled vehicle that all carry scientific instruments.
The Chinese Space Administration (CNSA) announced that the spacecraft will collect important information about the geological structure, atmosphere, environment and soil of Mars, and will look for signs of water. The spacecraft is expected to land on the surface of Mars in May or June.
Tianwen-1 makes China the sixth country in history to reach Mars.
Tianwen-1 was launched last July, a month in which two other international missions to Mars were launched, NASA's Persistence vehicle and the United Arab Emirates' Tikva, which entered orbit a day before. As we know, a launch window to Mars opens once every 26 months when the two planets align on the same side of their orbits around the Sun.
So far, the United States and the former Soviet Union are the only two countries to have landed a spacecraft on the surface of Mars. The European Space Agency and India have previously sent spacecraft that orbited Mars, and as mentioned this week, the United Arab Emirates also joined their ranks, when the Hope orbiter (Al-Amal in Arabic means hope) successfully entered orbit.
The Tianwen-1 mission is an unusual attempt by a country that is its first launch to Mars, to send both a rover and a lander and a rover on a mission to Mars. According to the scientific team of the space mission, an all-terrain vehicle will attack, land and launch from it at the first possible opportunity. The SUV is scheduled to operate for three months.
NASA launched several spacecraft that circled Mars before tackling the much more difficult task of landing.
China already tried to launch a spacecraft to Mars in 2011, in a joint launch with the Russian spacecraft Phobos Geront, but the launcher that carried them failed to leave Earth's orbit. A year later the spacecraft returned to the atmosphere and burned up in the Pacific Ocean.
Since President Xi Jinping took office in 2013, China has invested billions of dollars in its space program, launched space laboratories and satellites into orbit and landed three unmanned spacecraft on the moon.
The government has chosen space as a national research priority, especially deep space exploration and space crafts in orbit. More and more private Chinese companies are also investing in research and technology.
In addition to the Tianwen-1 mission to Mars, China also plans to launch a permanent space station by 2022, and is also exploring the possibility of sending astronauts to the moon - perhaps in the XNUMXs. In the future, it plans to send a spacecraft to bring soil samples from Mars and a spacecraft to explore Jupiter.
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