China has introduced its first-ever Mars rover Tianwen-1 as the country prepares to launch its historic red planet exploration mission from now on.
The rover measures just over two meters high (1.85 m) and weighs 530 pounds (240 kg), according to state media. The task is to search for extraterrestrial soil for water and signs of life.
Beijing’s historic space probe is expected to take off between July and August – depending on weather conditions – and is expected to reach Mars in February next year.
The Chinese space exploration authority introduced the first Mars rover Tianwen-1 (photo) on Wednesday at a grand ceremony. The rover measures just over two meters high
According to state channel CCTV, the rover is equipped with four solar panels that can help it survey the surface of the red planet for three Martian months, approximately 92 Earth days.
WHY IS THE ROVER TIANWEN-1 NAMED?
A poem about the stars and planets written over 2000 years ago inspired the name of China’s first exploration mission to Mars.
Tianwen-1 is a robot reconnaissance mission to the Red Planet and is expected to launch in the summer of this year – around the same time as the NASA Perseverance rover.
The poem, called Tianwen (天 问), was written by the ancient Chinese literacy and politician Qu Yuan (339-278 BC), who lived in Chu State (770-223 BC).
The phrase means ‘Quest for Heavenly Truth’ and raises questions about the stars and other celestial bodies.
The Chinese Mars explorer consists of three parts: an orbiter, a lander and a robber.
The orbiter will travel around the planet, the lander can help the rover to land on Mars, and the rover will survey the surface of the planet.
Named after a 2,000-year-old Chinese poem that reflects on stars and planets, the Tianwen-1 rover was presented to the public today at a grand ceremony.
The solar-powered machine is designed to operate on Mars for three Mars months, about 92 Earth days, according to the state channel CCTV.
Engineers expected it to examine the Martian surface composition, species, geological structure and meteorological environment before transferring the findings to Earth, the station said in a social media post.
It is equipped with at least six advanced instruments, including a geological camera, a multi-spectral camera, an underground detection radar, a surface composition detector, a surface magnetic field detector and a weather detector.
It would also be able to identify and avoid obstacles, plan routes and adjust their movements.
The Chinese space agency also presented its Mars lander at today’s event.
Officials also revealed the Mars lander (above), which should help the rover land on Mars. The lander and rover would parachute into the atmosphere of Mars as a whole
This is an illustration of what the Tianwen-1 rover might look like when it lands on Mars. The space probe can take off between July and August and reach Mars in February
The lander and rover, together weighing 2,866 lb (1,300 kg), will be removed from the entire runway. They would enter the atmosphere of Mars with a parachute.
The two spacecraft should significantly reduce their speed – from approximately 12,427 miles (20,000 km) per hour to idle – within seven minutes of landing, said Liu Tongjie, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center at China’s National Space Administration .
Mr. Liu explained that the machines would scan the surface of Mars before choosing a safe place to land without human intervention.
China’s first mission to Mars is scheduled for July or August as the country sprints to become a major space power in the global race.
The Chinese Mars mission uses the Long March-5 Y4 launcher (shown above), which the space program contractor described as the most powerful rocket in the country. The photo shows the missile being transported to the launch site for a test flight in December
Animated footage from the project, previously released by CCTV, illustrates a lander unleashing a ground rover to explore the surface of Mars after landing.
The mission uses the Long March-5 Y4 launch vehicle, described by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) as the country’s most powerful missile.
Last November, China successfully conducted a test landing of the rover.
The experiment simulated the robot’s hovering process, avoiding obstacles and landing on Mars.
Mars exploration is one of many new space projects China is pursuing, including placing Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. This image illustrates various types of rovers and satellites that are currently orbiting the red planet.
A month later, China performed a successful test flight of an early version of the Long March-5 missile.
In 2003 it became the third country to place a man in space with its own rocket after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Since then, China has been racing to overtake Russia and the United States and become a major space power by 2030.
In January of last year, a Chinese lunar explorer became the very first spacecraft to land on the dark side of the moon.
His lunar rover, Yutu-2, sent never-before-seen close-up images to his engineers after making the historic landing.
China is planning to become a space superpower with Mars and Moon missions
Officials from the Chinese space agency are working with the US and Russia to create a superpower in space.
They have already sent the first mission to the far side of the moon and shared photos of the part of our closest neighbor that we rarely see.
Chang’e-6 will be the first mission to explore the Moon’s South Pole and is expected to launch in 2023 or 2024.
Chang’e-7 will study the land area, composition and space environment in a general mission, according to the Chinese Space Authority, while Chang’e-8 will focus on technical surface analysis.
China is also reportedly working on building a moon base using 3D printing technology.
Mission number eight is likely to provide the basis for this, as it aims to verify the technology intended for the project and whether it is viable as a scientific basis.
The CNSA is also building an orbiting space station where Chinese astronauts will conduct scientific experiments similar to the ISS crew.
The agency will also launch a mission to Mars in the summer of 2020, in which they will land a rover on the surface of the red planet.