On Thursday, China has successfully launched the Tianwen-1 mission spacecraft to Mars, which consists of a lander, rover, and orbiter mission, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA). In mid-February 2021, the spacecraft will enter orbit around Mars, and at the end of April, the landing platform with the rover will separate and begin landing.
If the landing goes according to plan, China will become the second country after the United States to get a rover to the red planet’s’ surface. The Long March-5 rocket was used for launching at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site, located in Wenchang, Hainan, China.
Tianwen-1 will conduct scientific research on the Martian soil, and study geological structure, environment, atmosphere, and water. The 530-pound rover has six wheels and four solar panels and carries half a dozen scientific instruments, including a magnetic field detector, ground-penetrating radar, a geological spectrometer, two cameras, and a weather station.
The manned conquest of Mars is one of the news expected in this first half of the 21st century. However, before it arrives, there are several unmanned launch projects that have the red planet on the radar.
UAE successfully launched its Mars Hope mission on Sunday, the first Arab space mission to Mars. Throughout a Martian year, its goal is to obtain a complete photo of the climate of Mars.
For its part, NASA has Mars 2020, with an expected launch date of seven days from now, July 30. It will carry the Perseverance rover, which will analyze if Mars has traces of past life. It is no coincidence that three launches are planned this month; Mars is in a favorable position with respect to Earth during this period, and this only happens once every 26 months.
Although Russia and the US are the real superpowers in space, China has invested heavily in space in recent years. India, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil also have ambitious space programs.