A rover and space orbiter, which makeup the Tianwen-1 spacecraft from China, have successfully made their way to Mars as part of a mission to collect information and search for signs of alien life.
This marks one of three missions to Mars from various countries this month and the craft’s arrival comes a day after a United Arab Emirates spacecraft successfully entered the planet’s orbit and ahead of the arrival of NASA’s Perseverance rover on February 18th.
The arrival of Tianwen-1 is also the first time China has managed to complete the journey and is now set afloat for a few months so that it can send pictures and assess the safety of the landing site before the rover detaches and makes its way to the surface.
Congratulations to China for the Tianwen-1 mission successfully entering Mars orbit today. There is much to discover about the mysteries of Mars and we look forward to your contributions! pic.twitter.com/95IlAzPZFm
— Thomas Zurbuchen (@Dr_ThomasZ) February 10, 2021
The rover is then expected to spend three months collecting information and is fully-equipped with cameras, ground-penetrating radar, a magnetic field detector, a weather station, and an instrument to measure the chemical composition of rocks and dust.
With a parachute, back-firing rockets, and airbags, the craft will make its way to the proposed landing site. Meanwhile, the orbiter is set to be in action for two years.
Tianwen-1's first picture of Mars! 🎉👏
The @CNSA_en's Tianwen-1 mission captured this image at a distance of 2.2 million kilometers (1.36 million miles) from the Red Planet.
(Image: CASC/CNSA) pic.twitter.com/XS3lThR3SZ
— Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) February 5, 2021
Tianwen-1 left Earth seven months ago when China took advantage of a relatively close alignment with Mars and is named after an ancient poem which means ‘Quest for Heavenly Truth’.