China’s Tianwen-1 probe successfully puts into orbit around Mars

Less than 24 hours after the Emirati spacecraft, the Chinese Martian mission on Wednesday successfully completed the first leg of its journey to the Red Planet. The next, in May, will be to drop a rover on Martian soil.

And two. “Mars has a new visitor”, Write the New Scientist. China’s Tianwen-1 probe successfully orbit the Red Planet on Wednesday, just one day after the UAE’s Hope orbiter, and a week ahead of the landing of NASA’s Perseverance rover .

The launching into orbit is the first successful step of the Tianwen-1 mission, which took off from the Wenhang launch site in Hainan, China on July 23, 2020. The next one “Is to start preparations for landing” on the Utopia Planitia site, where the Nasa Viking 2 machine landed in 1976.

From orbit, the Chinese spacecraft will take some photos of the area to “Ensure that the conditions are safe to send the lander”, before propelling it to the Martian surface. Its conical heat shield and a parachute should cushion its fall “Before a set of rockets gently bring it to the ground”. However, we will have to wait until May for “Leave enough time to assess the landing site”.

90 days on the surface of Mars

If all goes well, Tianwen-1 will drop on Martian soil “A solar-powered rover to navigate its way around the dusty surface for around 90 Martian days”, equipped with cameras, radar, magnetic field detector, weather station and instrument for measuring the chemical composition of the Martian surface. During this time, the orbiter will study Mars using its own scientific equipment.

This is the first space mission that China is leading “Without any international partner”, specifies the scientific magazine. The objective is to study the pockets of liquid water and ice on the planet, but also to prepare the next Martian interplanetary voyage to bring back samples of rocks and dust to Earth in the late 2020s.

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