The Chinese mission Tianwen-1 will carry out its first landing attempt on Mars this morning. If it succeeds, it will be the second country to land on the Red Planet.
The space race is no longer a duopoly of the United States and Russia. Last February, three countries reached Mars almost at the same time: the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates.
USA He landed directly with his Perseverance rover, and has already achieved milestones such as flying a helicopter for the first time on Mars. The UAE mission seems more modest: the Hope probe will be limited to orbit the planet.
China’s Tianwen-1 mission is more ambitious. It arrived on February 10 and has spent three months orbiting Mars to study Utopia Planitia, a plain that hides frozen water under its surface. Tonight the probe will deploy the rover robot Zhurong, which will attempt to land on the surface of Mars. It will be the first time that a single mission orbits the planet and also lands, and China could also become the second country to land on Mars (if it succeeds), after the United States.
Russia and the UK tried before, but lost communication with their robots, or crashed.
Yes China lands on Mars It would be a milestone, as it was his first mission on the Red Planet. The experts consulted by Ars Technica they give a little more than a 50% chance, as it is a first mission.
It is not an easy task, since the Zhurong rover, named after the fire god of Chinese mythology, will have to overcome the 7 Minutes of Terror, which is the name of the time it takes to cross the Martian atmosphere and brake before opening the parachutes.
IF successful, Zhurong’s mission will last 90 days, and will be dedicated to explore the rocks and the interior of the surface with a radar, looking for water and signs of life.
China plans to make a first attempt at 1:11 this morning on Saturday, Spanish time. But if you do not see it clearly, a window of 4 days has been set as a deadline, until May 19.
At the moment it seems that there will be no live broadcast. They don’t want a possible failure to be seen. So we will have to wait to enjoy the first images of China’s first landing on Mars.