The Strategist

China launches its first interplanetary mission to Mars

07/23/2020 - 09:25

The Chang Zheng 5 (CZ-5) heavy vehicle was launched on Thursday with China's first Tianwen 1 mission to Mars, CCTV reported.

The launch of a rocket with an automatic interplanetary station "Tianwen-1" with a total mass of about 5 tons, which consists of an orbiter and a landing platform with a rover, was carried out from the LC101 launch pad of the Chinese Wenchang spaceport, located on the island of Hainan.

The goal of the Chinese mission is to find traces of life on Mars, as well as explore the possibilities for its potential human colonization.

The station should reach the Red Planet in seven months, that is, on February 11, 2021. At this time, it will begin to perform a braking maneuver and will enter the orbit of Mars.

For about two months, the station will conduct a detailed survey of the surface of the planet to select the most suitable landing site. It is planned that on April 11, 2021, a landing platform with a light 240-kilogram rover will separate from the orbiter and land on the planet's surface. The preliminary landing site was selected in the southern part of the Utopia Plain in the eastern part of the northern hemisphere of Mars.

The planned life of the rover is 90 Martian days (sols), which is 2.7% more than Earth days. It will be powered by four solar panels. The speed of movement of the Chinese rover reaches 200 meters per hour.

The Chinese rover is equipped with multispectral cameras for navigation and topographic surveying, a subsurface sensing radar for studying the geological structure of Mars up to 10 meters depth, an instrument for analyzing the chemical composition of the soil and searching for biomolecules, as well as magnetic field detectors and a weather station.