China launches ambitious Mars mission

Next up will be the launch of NASA’s $2.4 billion Perseverance Mars rover from Cape Canaveral on July 30.All three missions are taking advantage of a relatively short Mars launch opportunity that comes around once every 26 months when Earth and Mars are in favorable positions to permit direct flights by existing rockets. “No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way. China Thursday launched its first #Mars probe on a Long March-5 rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of southern China’s island province of Hainan— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) July 23, 2020

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation later confirmed a successful launch and said the Tianwen-1 spacecraft had been placed on the planned trajectory to Mars. A Long March 5 rocket blasts off from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island Thursday carrying China’s Mars-bound Tianwen-1 spacecraft on July 23, 2020. NASA has successfully landed eight spacecraft on the martian surface: two Vikings in 1976; the Mars Pathfinder rover in 1997; the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, in 2004; the stationary Phoenix lander in 2008; the nuclear-powered Curiosity rover in 2012; and the stationary InSight lander in 2018.InSight and Curiosity are still operational, as are three NASA orbiters. Safe travels Tianwen-1!— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) July 23, 2020

The flight comes on the heels of the successful launch of a United Arab Emirates Mars orbiter, called Hope, from Japan on Sunday. Hope refers to the UAE’s drive to develop a high-tech “knowledge-based” economy while inspiring the youth of the Middle East to pursue careers in math and science.Tianwen-1’s name comes from an ancient Chinese poem and means, appropriately enough, “questions to heaven.” If all goes well, the 11,000-pound Tianwen-1 spacecraft will brake into orbit around Mars next February. It is equipped with state-of-the-art cameras and instruments to search for signs of past or even present microbial life.It also will deploy a small experimental helicopter — a first on Mars — and collect rock and soil samples for eventual return to Earth by a joint NASA-European Space Agency mission at the end of the decade.The Chinese say they’re also planning a Mars sample return mission around 2030. Trending News

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NASA’s Perseverance rover got its name from a Virginia seventh grader who won a NASA contest open to school kids across the nation. After mapping the world below for several months, the orbiter will release a landing craft that will descend to a rocket-powered touchdown on a broad, 2,000-mile-wide plain known as Utopia Planitia, the same general region where NASA’s Viking 1 lander touched down in 1976. The United States, Europe, Russia, India, and soon the UAE will welcome you to Mars to embark on an exciting year of scientific discovery. All three spacecraft are expected to reach their target next February. China Xinhua News

The orbiter is equipped with seven instruments, including high- and medium-resolution cameras; a ground-penetrating radar; a mineralogy spectrometer; a magnetometer; and two charged particle detectors. The 530-pound six-wheel rover will ride down atop the lander and then roll off extendable ramps to the surface. China launches ambitious Mars mission

By William Harwood

July 23, 2020 / 7:22 AM
/ CBS News

China launches mission to Mars

China launches mission to Mars


A powerful Long March 5 rocket blasted off Thursday carrying a Chinese orbiter, lander and rover on a seven-month voyage to Mars, the second of three high-stakes missions to the red planet and one that, if successful, will put China on the front lines of interplanetary exploration. China did not announce the launch date or time in advance, but a notice to mariners warned of an impending flight and sure enough, the Long March 5 roared to life and streaked away from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island southwest of Hong Kong at 12:41 a.m. An artist’s impression of the Tianwen-1 lander and rover on the surface of Mars. local time).China Xinhua News announced the launch a few minutes later on Twitter. The rover is equipped with six instruments, including a multi-spectral camera, a terrain camera, a ground-penetrating radar, magnetic field detector, meteorology sensors and others.The rover is designed to receive commands and beam back data to Earth using the Tianwen-1 orbiter as a relay station.”A successful landing would put China among elite company,” Mason Peck, an aerospace engineer at Cornell University, told the journal Science. 16 fascinating facts about NASA’s Mars rovers

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Perseverance, which is a near twin of Curiosity and four times heavier than its Chinese cousin, is the most advanced rover of them all. China Global Television Network

China has successfully sent two rovers to the moon, including one that landed on the never-before-visited far side. First published on July 22, 2020 / 6:23 PM EDT (12:41 p.m. An attempt to send an orbiter to Mars in 2011, hitchhiking on a Russian rocket, ended in failure when the Zenit booster malfunctioned.The all-Chinese Tianwen-1 mission is the nation’s most ambitious attempt yet at interplanetary exploration.”Tianwen-1 is going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter,” mission managers wrote in the journal Nature Astronomy. If successful, it would signify a major technical breakthrough.”The solar-powered rover is designed to operate for at least 90 days while the design life of the orbiter is a full martian year, the equivalent of two Earth years. Get Breaking News Delivered to Your Inbox

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his best wishes to China:
With today’s launch, China is on its way to join the community of international scientific explorers at Mars. Its planned orbit around the martian poles will carry it within about 165 miles of the surface and as far away as 7,450 miles.