Mars mission would put China among space leaders


With its Tianwen-1—”quest for heavenly truth”—mission, China is aiming to join one of the most exclusive clubs in spacefaring by landing on Mars. Only two countries have accomplished the feat—the United States and Russia, and the Russian probe immediately lost communications. The Tianwen-1 lander will release a rover as well. The mission is due to launch at roughly the same time as NASA’s Perseverance mission, in July. And if both are successful, two rovers will be traversing the Red Planet at the same time. The Tianwen-1 orbiter aims to study the martian magnetic field and atmosphere and map the surface with a high-resolution camera. The six instruments on the rover include an additional camera for detailed looks at the topography and a ground-penetrating radar to investigate subsurface layering, structures, and the presence of permafrost or ice.

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