One day after the successful completion of the UAE mission, this is the first time the country has been able to send a ship to Mars.
Tianwen-1, or “Questions in Heaven,” includes an orbiting ship and surface vehicle.
Mission engineers are in no hurry to land a wheeled robot on the surface of our neighboring planet, which is expected to occur in May or June.
The successful entry into orbit around Mars underscores the rapid progress made by China’s space program in the wake of the Asian mission in December, when its spacecraft was able to collect rock samples and ground from the moon and return to Earth with them. Complex task.
In December, China was able to collect samples from lunar soil to Earth
Tianwen-1’s mission, especially the part about the robot moving on the surface of Mars, does not hide the challenges.
The five-ton spacecraft, consisting of an orbital observer and a surface robot, was launched from the Wunchang spacecraft in July 2020 and traveled half a billion kilometers to reach the Red Planet.
Using rotational propellers capable of producing 3,000 Newtons, the mission’s engineers designed a 14 – minute declaration ignition, which is expected to slow down the Tianwen-1, which travels at a speed of 23 kilometers per second, which is sufficient to accelerate it from the gravitational field. Tuesday.
This process was automated, inevitably. Radio signals take about 11 minutes to travel the 190 million kilometers that currently separate the Earth from Mars.
At the altitude of 400 to 180,000 km above the planet’s surface, Tianwen – 1 aimed at an elliptical orbit. This path will gradually be adjusted to make it more closed and rounded.
Artistic illustration: Tianwen-1 is very reminiscent of robots sent by the US in the 2000s
On Tuesday, in defiance of the UAE’s decision to include the final phase of the mission live, China announced that it had successfully entered its own ship’s orbit after this happened.
However, it was clear from the outset that the process was going smoothly as amateur astronomers could receive Tianwen-1 signals from the radio and see the successful completion of the orbits of Mars.
When the Viking spacecraft successfully launched to the surface of the Red Planet in the 1970s, China was following in the footsteps of the Americans.
For now, the landing site will follow a period of viewing and observation, but the first choice of Tianwen-1 is the flat area within the Utopia crater north of the equator of Mars.
The surface robot weighs 240 kilograms and folds solar panels, reminiscent of the robots Opportunity and Spirit sent to NASA’s Red Planet in the 2000s.
A tall ship will take pictures with the cameras and assist the robot in its movement, which has five additional devices that will perform geographical observations and look for any signs of ice-like water.
This image of Tianwen-1 Mars was taken from a distance of 2 million kilometers
The search for the planet’s surface is mainly half the mission, however, the orbiting spacecraft with the robot will monitor Mars and use the seven instruments it is equipped with.
Like previous satellites, this spacecraft will focus on the features of the upper atmosphere as it examines the geological structure and structure of the planet’s surface. Its medium and high resolution cameras are expected to send very attractive images to Earth.
Tianwen-1 is the second of three missions to reach Mars in February.
The UAE made its debut through Hope on Tuesday. Next week, NASA will try to land another car-sized robot on the surface of the Red Planet.