China heads to Mars, plans to land on the Red Planet

23rd July 2020

The Tianwen-1 was launched from Haiman Island off the coast of mainland China propelled by a Long March-5 carrier rocket in an attempt to reach and land a spacecraft on Mars, China's most ambitious space mission yet.

China's mission consists of both an orbiter and a rover and is expected to reach Mars in 7 months.

The launch was successful, coloring the sky with a streak of orange and grey as the rocket burned through its fuel reserves.

According to AP News, this launch is China's second attempt for Mars after a Chinese orbiter accompanying a Russian mission was lost when the spacecraft failed to get out of Earth’s orbit after launching from Kazakhstan, eventually burning up in the atmosphere.

China has since made some changes to their approach, opting to build their project from the ground up through their secretive space program.

Tianwen-1, or "quest for heavenly truth," is tasked with finding underground water or other indicators of possible life on Mars.

The Earth has experienced a large amount of space traffic recently as China's mission is the second mission to Mars this week, following the United Arab Emirates' Hope mission, which plans to orbit the red planet.

The United States has also planned to launch Perseverance, another Mars rover, from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in the next week.

The reason for the busy space traffic is because space programs have a 'Mars-launching season,' a brief window that opens up every 26 months when Earth and Mars are at their closest.

This launching season is still significantly busy compared to previous seasons.

Many countries have made missions to Mars before. Mars currently has 6 spacecraft exploring it from orbit: three American, two European and one from India.

Only the United States has successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars so far, completing eight landings since 1976, most noteworthy of these landings include NASA's InSight and Curiosity rovers which still operate today.

"At no other time in our history have we seen anything like what is unfolding with these three unique missions to Mars. Each of them is a science and engineering marvel," said the US Space Foundation’s chief executive officer Thomas Zelibor.

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