The Chinese Mars mission called Tianwen-1, consisting of an orbiter and a lander-rover duo, is currently on its way to the red planet following its launch on a Long March 5 rocket on July 23 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan Province.
Tianwen-1 is set to arrive at Mars on February 10th. After orbiting the planet, it will send a lander containing a rover to the surface in May. The plan is to touch down inside the huge impact basin Utopia Planitia. The main task of Tianwen-1 is to perform a global and extensive survey of the entire planet using the orbiter, and to send the rover to surface locations of scientific interests to conduct detailed investigations with high accuracy and resolution.
Tianwen-1 is going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter. No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way. If successful, it would signify a major technical breakthrough. Scientifically, Tianwen-1 is the most comprehensive mission to investigate the Martian morphology, geology, mineralogy, space environment, and soil and water-ice distribution.
Once the lander touches down on Mars, it will extend a ramp that allows the rover to roll down to the surface. The orbiter can be used to relay signals from the rover to Earth, and the rover can send messages to Earth on its own.
A successful landing there would extend China’s record of impressive spaceflight achievements and we’re so excited to see what discoveries are made.