China’s mission to Mars is moving ahead on the right track. The probe is called Tianwen-1. The spacecraft has captured the first image of Mars. It has sent back the image of the Red Planet. According to the CNSA, the image was captured from a distance of 2.2 million km from Mars. The agency released a fascinating image of the planet. The spacecraft has successfully conducted its fourth orbital correction. The agency said that this correction is aimed at ensuring the probe achieves a sound planned rendezvous with the planet. It has so far traveled 197 days in orbit and flying 465 million km. The CNSA said that the probe’s systems are working as planned. It is 184 million km from Earth.
China launched the mission in July 2020. It lifted off on a Long March-5 rocket from the Hainan launch site. It weighs 5 tonnes. It consists of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. It will enter the Martian orbit on February 10. CNSA said that the spacecraft will spend approximately 90 days in the Mar orbit. It will survey potential sites for landing. It will use a high-resolution camera to locate the sites. The landing is likely to take place in May. CNSA said that the soft landing of the probe is the most challenging part of the mission. It said that the landing will be an autonomous process. The spacecraft will use a parachute, its aerodynamic shape, retrorocket to descend. It will buffer the legs at the time of touching down.
Once the soft landing is achieved, the probe will release the rover. It will conduct scientific exploration at Mars. The CNSA said that the lifespan of the rover is approximately 90 Martian days. A Martian day is around 40 minutes longer than the Earth’s. The rover will transmit data back to Earth as it will conduct experiments. Tianwen-1 is China’s first rover mission to the Red Planet. Tianwen-1 is one of three Mars missions that were launched within 11 days in 2020. The remaining two missions were launched by the US and the UAE. The missions will enter the Mars orbit in February itself. While the UAE’s mission named Hope is an orbiter, the mission launched by the US is carrying a rover. It is named Perseverance. The rover will explore the Jezero crater.