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What is Tianwen-1, China’s Mars mission? Discuss in detail.

  Jun 22, 2020

What is Tianwen-1, China’s Mars mission? Discuss in detail.

  1. China’s space program is now slated to achieve a new milestone. 
  2. In July, the country will launch its first Mars mission, the ‘Tianwen-1’, which is expected to land on the Red Planet’s surface in the first quarter of 2021. 
  3. The success of the mission will make China the third country to achieve a Mars landing after the USSR and the United States.
  4. The Tianwen-1, an all-in-one orbiter, lander and rover will search the Martian surface for water, ice, investigate soil characteristics, and study the atmosphere, among completing other objectives.
  5. The Tianwen-1 mission will lift off on a Long March 5 rocket, a launch system developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), from the Wenchang launch centre, and will carry 13 payloads (seven orbiters and six rovers) that will explore the planet. 
  6. China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has been working on the project since 2016.
  7. China’s previous ‘Yinghuo-1’ Mars mission, on a Russian spacecraft, had failed after it could not leave the Earth’s orbit and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean in 2012.
  8. The Chinese mission is expected to take off in late July, around the same time when NASA is launching its own Mars mission– the ambitious ‘Perseverance’ which aims to collect Martian samples and bring them back to Earth in a two-part campaign.
  9. The USSR in 1971 became the first country to carry out a Mars landing– its ‘Mars 3’ lander being able to transmit data for 20 seconds from the Martian surface before failing. The second country to reach Mars’s surface, the US, holds the record for the most number of Mars landings. 
  10. India and the European Space Agency have been able to place their spacecraft in Mars’s orbit. India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or ‘Mangalyaan’ was able to do so in September 2014, almost a year after its launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh.