China is preparing to launch its first mission to Mars, entitled Tianwen-1. With a few days to go, almost nothing was known about it, but an article published in the journal Nature Astronomy last week revealed details hitherto kept secret.
The text written by members of the mission team states that it will carry an orbiter, a landing module and a rover. When it reaches Martian orbit, the spacecraft will study the planet from above, for 2 or 3 months, until it lands in the Utopia Planitia region, the same area where NASA’s Viking 2 descended in 1976.
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When it comes into action, the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) rover, which is 2 meters in diameter and weighs 240 kg, will analyze the characteristics of Mars’ soil using an underground exploration radar. He will also analyze the composition of the surface material and the characteristics of the climate in this part.
The orbital will be in charge of mapping the Martian morphology and geological structure, in addition to measuring the ionosphere and the electromagnetic and gravitational fields, according to the article. He will also be responsible for providing communication with the vehicle that will be moving across the planet’s soil.
When will it be released?
The launch date for Tianwen-1 was not disclosed by CNSA, but rumors suggest that it will occur until the end of July, with the possibility of happening around the 23rd. Takeoff in early August is also not ruled out.
It will depart for the Red Planet powered by a Long March 5 rocket, taking off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on the island of Hainan. The forecast of arrival at the destination is in March 2021, when the Hope Mars mission, from the United Arab Emirates, and Mars 2020, from NASA, will also be there.