Home Science China quietly lands its ultra-secret experimental spacecraft

China quietly lands its ultra-secret experimental spacecraft

0


There are three major missions bound for Mars in the space of just 10 days this month – the UAE’s Hope orbiter, China’s Tianwen-1 craft and NASA’s Perseverance rover. 

The countries are taking advantage of a period when Earth and Mars are favourably aligned for a relatively short journey.  

July 20: Hope (UAE)

The 3,000lb (1,350kg) craft (pictured) will complete one orbit every 55 hours for a total of one Martian year — 687 Earth days

The 3,000lb (1,350kg) craft (pictured) will complete one orbit every 55 hours for a total of one Martian year — 687 Earth days

 – The 2,970-pound probe was built entirely within the Emirates, launched from Japan and will take seven months to reach the Red Planet. 

– When the orbiter gets there in February 2021, it will stay in orbit for a whole Martian year – 687 days. 

– Hope will not land on the Martian surface but take readings from the Red Planet’s atmosphere.  

– Hope will help answer key questions about the Martian atmosphere and the loss of hydrogen and oxygen gases into space over the span of one Martian year – called a ‘sol’. 

– Three instruments mounted on the probe will provide a picture of Mars’s atmosphere throughout the year, and all of the data gathered will be made widely available. 

– This includes an infrared spectrometer to measure the lower atmosphere and temperature, a high-resolution imager to study the ozone and another to look at levels of hydrogen and oxygen up to 27,000 miles from the surface. 

July 23: Tianwen-1

The Chinese space exploration authority introduced the nation's first Mars rover Tianwen-1 (pictured) at a grand ceremony earlier this month. The rover measures just over six feet in height

The Chinese space exploration authority introduced the nation’s first Mars rover Tianwen-1 (pictured) at a grand ceremony earlier this month. The rover measures just over six feet in height

 – This robotic spacecraft consists of an orbiter (stationed in the atmosphere), a lander (stationary on the planet’s surface) and a rover (roaming the surface). 

– The craft measures just over six feet in height (1.85m) and weighs 530 pounds (240kg). 

– It will survey the composition, types of substance, geological structure and meteorological environment of the Martian surface. 

– The solar-powered machine is designed to work on Mars for three Martian months, about 92 Earth days.

– It includes a geological camera, a multispectral camera, a subsurface detection radar, a surface composition detector, a surface magnetic field detector and a weather detector.

– A poem pondering on the stars and planets written over 2000 years ago was the inspiration for the name of China’s first exploration mission to Mars. 

– Called Tianwen (天问), the poem was written by ancient Chinese literati and politician Qu Yuan (339-278BC), who lived in the Chu State (770-223BC). 

July 30: Perseverance

NASA's Mars 2020 Rover will pick up samples of rock and soil from the red planet, deposit them in tubes and leave them on the ground for a future mission to return them to Earth.

NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover will pick up samples of rock and soil from the red planet, deposit them in tubes and leave them on the ground for a future mission to return them to Earth.

– NASA’s Perseverance rover is the heaviest payload yet to go to the Red Planet – at a car-sized 2,259 pounds (1,025kg).  

The mission will seek signs of past microbial life on Mars and collect rock and soil samples for eventual return to Earth.   

– The Mars Perseverance rover introduces a drill that can collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a ‘cache’ on the surface of Mars. 

– The rover will travel using an ultraviolet laser to determine what minerals and compounds are present in the soil, based on the way the light scatters. 

– The Mars 2020 rover, which was built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California., is now at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final preparations. 

– It launches to space on July 30 and is set to touch down on Mars in 12 months. 

– It has a mission duration of 1 Mars year (668 sols or 687 Earth days) and will touch down on the planet’s Jezero crater on Mars in February 2021.  

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here