China says it will carry out first Mars exploration in July or August

China says it will carry out its first Mars exploration in July or August as the country races to become a space superpower

  • China confirmed its plan to send its Tianwen-1 spacecraft to Mars this summer
  • The programme director said the probe would reach the red planet in February
  • The spaceship is due to use a robot to explore the Martian surface after landing
  • The nation has been racing to affirm its status as a major world power in space

China’s first mission to Mars is set to launch in July or August as the country sprints to become a major space power in the global race, the programme director has revealed.

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft will be carried by a Long March-5 rocket this summer and is expected to reach the red planet in February, Bao Weimin, head of the space programme, told state broadcaster CCTV Monday.

Animation footage released by CCTV illustrates the spaceship releasing a ground rover to explore the Martian surface after landing.

China’s ambitious plan to conquer the red planet was revealed by Bao, an academic from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in an interview with CCTV on Monday. The picture shows an illustration of the ‘Tianwen-1’ spacecraft being captured by the gravitational fields of Mars

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft will be carried by a Long March-5 rocket this summer and is expected to reach the red planet in February. The animated picture shows an illustration of a rover being released by the Chinese ‘Tianwen-1’ spacecraft to explore the Martian surface

China’s Mars mission will use the Long March-5 Y4 carrier rocket (pictured above), which the contractor of the space programme described as the country’s most powerful rocket. The picture shows the rocket being transported to the launching site for a test flight in December

The mission will use the Long March-5 Y4 carrier rocket, which the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has described as the country’s most powerful rocket. 

In December, China conducted a successful test flight of an early version of the Long March-5 rocket.

China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket in 2003 after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

The nation has since been racing to catch up with Russia and the United States to affirm its status as a world superpower.

China’s ambitious plan to conquer the red planet was confirmed by Bao, an academic from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in an interview with CCTV on Monday. 

‘Between July and August this year, we will use the Long March-5 carrier rocket to launch [the spacecraft],’ the space expert claimed.

Mr Bao, who is also the director of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), said the mission would put a probe into orbit around Mars and land the machine to explore and analyse the surface. 

Mr Bao, the director of China’s Mars mission, said the ‘Tianwen-1’ exploration mission would put a probe into orbit around Mars and land the machine to explore and analyse the surface

The spaceship’s orbiter will fly around the planet while the lander will release the robotic rover to carry out patrol exploration and research, according to the scientist. The picture shows an animated illustration of the rover being released by the lander after the spacecraft lands

China’s ambitious plan to conquer the red planet was revealed by Bao Weimin (picture), an academic from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in an interview with CCTV on Monday

The Tianwen-1 spacecraft is expected to reach within the gravitational field of Mars next February and will be captured into orbit around the planet, said Mr Bao.

The remote-controlled probe consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover.

The spaceship’s orbiter will fly around the planet while the lander will release the robotic rover to carry out patrol exploration and research, according to the scientist.

The Mars rover is expected to operate for at least 90 Mars days, which roughly account to three months on Earth.

‘The first key point of the mission will be ensuring that the orbiter gets captured by the gravity field of Mars,’ Mr Bao told the state media. ‘And the next one will be that the landing takes seven to eight minutes.’

The Chinese Mars rover is expected to operate for at least 90 Mars days, which roughly account to three months on Earth. The file picture shows an overview of the red planet

The Mars exploration is among several new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. This graphic illustrates different types of rovers and satellites are currently orbiting the red planet

Last November, China successfully conducted a test landing of the rover.

The experiment simulated the robot’s process of hovering, avoiding obstacles and landing on Mars.

The Mars exploration mission was named ‘Tianwen-1’, or ‘Questions to Heaven’, after an ancient Chinese poem.

The Mars exploration is among several new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022.

In January 2019, China landed a small rover on the dark side of the lunar surface, becoming the first nation to do so.

In May, China successfully launched its largest carrier rocket with a new-generation spacecraft (pictured), marking a significant progress towards landing a man on the moon 

In May, the country successfully launched its largest carrier rocket with a new-generation spacecraft, marking a significant progress towards landing a man on the moon. 

The US, which has already sent four exploratory vehicles to Mars, intends to launch a fifth this summer. It should arrive around February 2021, roughly the same time when China’s rover arrives.

The United Arab Emirates plans to launch the first Arab probe to the red planet on July 15 from Japan.

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