Mars is the fourth planet from the sun. It has the most similar physical and chemical features as Earth.
The farthest distance between the Earth and Mars is about 400 million kilometers, and the nearest about 56 million kilometers. Based on the orbit Mars is traveling and the capability of mankind, only one launch window is open for Mars every 26 months.
Human beings have achieved Mars fly-bys, orbiting, landing, and patrol exploration. Few spacecraft can land and carry out patrols on Mars. China’s Mars exploration plan aims to achieve three goals – to finish Mars orbiting, landing, and patrols – in one mission.
China eyes to launch first Mars probe this year. There are 6 steps for the Mars probe to go from Earth to Mars: to launch the spacecraft, to finish the Earth-Mars transfer, to get the spacecraft caught by Mars, to enter an orbit, to land on Mars, and finally, to carry out scientific research.
China’s Mars probe will be sent into the Earth-Mars transfer orbit by the Long March-5 Y4 rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. This is also the first time the Long March-5 Carrier will carry out a practical mission.
In the Earth-Mars transfer period, the probe will separate from the launch vehicle. The solar panels and directional antennas on the probe will operate. The Earth-Mars transfer phase will take around 7 months.
Then the probe will enter Mars’ gravitational pull and orbit around Mars.
The spacecraft will orbit Mars before it enters into the parking phase. The probe will start exploring the landing site above the landing area.
Then it leaves the orbit and lands on Mars. The lander and the rover separate from the orbiter. They enter Mars’ atmosphere and land on the planet. The orbiter will continue to provide communication support during the landing phase.
After landing, the rover will separate from the lander to carry out the Mars patrol exploration.
While this is going on, the orbiter will turn to the global remote sensing of Mars from space while continuing to provide communication to the rover.
Every step counts during the long flight. This is an unusual space travel undertaking of China’s dream to explore the planets. To the stars and beyond! Go for it, Tianwen-1!
(Produced by Xu Dan, Gong Han, Gu Chen, Feng Hua, Liu Shiyao, Zuo Xiao and Wang Xiangyu; Compiled by Chen Lidan, Li Bowen and Jiang Yunan)