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China’s Tianwen 1 probe reaches Mars’s orbit

China’s Tianwen 1 probe reaches Mars’s orbit

Three missions were launched by China, UAE, and the U.S. due to the alignment of Mars and earth

China’s Tianwen 1 probe successfully entered the Mars orbit, making the Asian giant the sixth country to reach the red planet, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA). A couple of days back, UAE’s HOPE probe also entered the orbit of Mars.

The Chinese probe has an orbiter, lander and a six-wheeled rover carrying scientific instruments aimed at gaining information about Mars’ geological structure, atmosphere, environment and soil, and search for any signs of water. Tianwen 1, the name for which translates to “quest for heavenly truth,” is expected to land on the Mars surface sometime in May or June.

Three missions launched together

This is the first orbiter sent by the Chinese, which they also plan on landing. However, the U.S. sent multiple orbiters before attempting a landing on the surface. Three missions were launched at the same time last year for Mars due to the alignment between Mars and the earth on the same side of the sun, allowing more efficient travel. These include China’s Tianwen 1, UAE’s HOPE, and NASA’s Perseverance. The NASA mission is expected to land on Mars on February 18th. To date, Russia and the United States are the only countries that have successfully landed a spacecraft on the surface of Mars.

Ambitious space program

Chinese space ambitions are relatively recent compared with some of the other more developed countries. Under Xi Jinping’s regime, billions of dollars have been invested in the space program and China has already landed three unmanned space crafts on the moon. China plans to have its own space station in a couple of years and land its astronauts on the moon, probably sometime in the 2030s. Private firms in China are also heavily investing in space research and technology.

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