Details of Tianwen-1, China’s Mars-bound space mission

One of the most important milestones in the Chinese space exploration program was undoubtedly the Change-4 mission, which in January 2019 managed to land a rover on the far side of the Moon, this being the first time that China achieved such a feat.

While landing in this area of ​​the Moon was a difficult task to accomplish, landing on the planet Mars will be even more so for Tianwen-1, the ship built for this mission.

In this sense, it is expected that by the end of July Mars will be located about 58 million kilometers from Earth, this being the closest point between the two planets.

However, Tianwen-1 will still have to travel a much greater distance in order to land on the surface of Mars during some time in April 2021, a situation that will require great precision to be able to make a descent that will generate great anxiety in the team involved.

As Russia and the United States have experienced in the past, Mars has earned a reputation for damaging robotic explorers, causing failures in more than 50% of the missions sent to this planet.

In this case, the Chinese mission takes the risks further with the Tianwen-1 taking into account that its structure contains the orbiting spacecraft, the landing module and the rover, all of them being sent at the same time.

In reference to this situation, the chief scientist of the mission pointed out in a short article written on July 13 for the journal Nature Astronomy the following

Tianwen-1 will orbit, land and release a rover first time, and coordinate observations with an orbiter [] No planetary mission has been implemented in this way

Scientific objectives of Tianwen-1

Through this mission, China hopes that it will be possible to carry out a comprehensive and global study of the entire planet, examining places on the surface that represent a high scientific interest with the commissioning of the rover.

Among the most outstanding objectives established for this mission are:

  • Plot a geological map of Mars
  • Create a geological map of Mars
  • Study the atmosphere and surface climate
  • Perform analysis on the composition of the surface material
  • Decipher the electromagnetic and gravitational fields of the planet
  • Determine the characteristics of the Martian surface and locate potential ice and water deposits.

To achieve each of these tasks, the orbiter has been equipped with 7 instruments: two cameras, an underground penetration radar, a spectrometer to decipher the mineral composition of the surface, and the rest of the instruments that will be used to analyze charged particles in the atmosphere. Martian.

For its part, the 240 kilogram rover has 6 instruments along with 2 cameras, a radar and 3 detectors that can be used to obtain a better understanding of the ground and the magnetic fields that act on the planet.

Regarding the landing site, the Nature article indicated that this will be carried out at some point in a vast plain located in the northern latitudes of Mars known as Utopia Planitia, a fact that is expected to be fulfilled 2 or 3 months after Tianwen-1 reaches the orbit of Mars.

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