Tianwen 1 robotic probe to enter Mars orbit in Feb - Telenor

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January 3, 2021

Tianwen 1 robotic probe to enter Mars orbit in Feb


(China Daily) China’s Tianwen 1 robotic Mars probe had traveled more than 400 million kilometers by Sunday morning and is set to enter a Mars orbit next month, according to the China National Space Administration.


By 6 am Sunday, the spacecraft had flown for 163 days on an Earth-Mars transfer trajectory and was about 8.3 million km from the red planet, the administration said in a statement, adding that it was in good condition.


In February, the probe is scheduled to decelerate as it approaches Mars and then will begin to revolve around the planet to make preparations for a landing operation, according to the statement.


Tianwen 1, China’s first independent Mars mission, was launched by a Long March 5 heavy-lift carrier rocket on July 23 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in South China’s Hainan province, opening the nation’s planetary exploration program.


If everything goes according to schedule, the 5-metric ton probe – which consists of two major parts, an orbiter and a landing capsule – will travel more than 470 million km before getting captured by the Martian gravitational field in February, when it will be 193 million km from Earth.


Depending on the two planets’ orbits, Mars is from 55 million km to 400 million km distant from Earth.


The mission’s ultimate goal is to deploy a rover in May on the southern part of Mars’ Utopia Planitia – a large plain within Utopia, the largest recognized impact basin in the solar system – to make scientific surveys.


If Tianwen 1 can fulfill its three objectives – orbiting Mars for comprehensive observation, landing on the planet’s surface and deploying a rover to conduct scientific operations – “it will become the world’s first Mars expedition to accomplish all three goals with one probe,” said Ye Peijian, a leading deep-space exploration scientist at the China Academy of Space Technology.


Tianwen 1 is the world’s 46th Mars exploration mission since October 1960, when the former Soviet Union launched the world’s first Mars-bound spacecraft. Only 17 of those missions were successful.


Source: By Zhao Lei | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-01-03 09:16

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