Beijing Airport (AFP)
China’s “Jurong” rover, part of its ambitious space program to send a probe to Mars, is set to attempt a challenging landing on the Red Planet in the next five days, with a launch to harvest data on the Red Planet.
This is a very busy time for Mars exploration, as China, the United States and so far space are sending explorations to the treacherous planet UAE, where failing to land safely occurs more often than success.
China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft was successfully launched last July and entered orbit around Mars in February – a major milestone in Beijing’s ambitious space program.
Space observers are curious as to whether the Jurong rover will land successfully after a separate Chinese rocket crashed into Earth uncontrollably in the Indian Ocean last week.
The six-wheeled, solar-powered Jurang – named after the god of fire in ancient Chinese mythology – is involved in collecting rocks, data and scanning the surface.
But its landing is set as a nail-biter, with Chinese state media describing the multi-minute process of using a parachute, rocket and slow descent and describing the legs as a “buffer challenging area”.
Here’s a look at China’s efforts to reach the Red Planet compared to other countries throughout history.
– Perseverance –
NASA’s diligence earlier this year became the fifth rover to successfully land on Mars since 1997, after China’s Tianwen-1.
It has a mission to hunt down signs of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet and in April a helicopter-drone flew for the first time in another world.
About the size of a small SUV, it weighs a metric ton, has 19 cameras and two microphones – scientists believe it will be the first to record sound on Mars.
Scientists hope the rover, with its own oxygen production facilities, will pave the way for future manned missions.
– Hope –
After the launch of the United Arab Emirates last July, the Arab world’s first mission to another planet successfully landed in orbit around Mars in February.
The spacecraft above the surface in orbit is designed to further explore the atmosphere of Mars and how its climate has changed over time.
– Schiaparelli –
The Exomars joint venture between the European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency came to a rocky start when it crashed on the surface of Mars in October 2016, out of control of its first phase, the Schiaparelli lander.
Named after the 19th-century Italian astronomer, the failed mission will lead to the second part of the Exomars project – the Rosalind Franklin Rover, scheduled to launch in 2022.
– Interest –
NASA’s flagship Curiosity rover – in which diligence is an updated version – is active in a scene seen by millions of people on the surface of Mars since landing in 2012.
The charge of finding out if Mars could have once supported life, the sophisticated car-sized rover has built the mission of its NASA predecessors and previously found additional evidence of water on the planet’s surface.
It is now studying the geography of Mars and the history of its environment. To do this, it climbs a five-kilometer-high mountain in an ancient lake area.
– Opportunity –
NASA’s long-running Mars reached the surface of the Red Planet in 2004, which remained active until 2018 when it was struck by a dust storm.
This and its twin rover, Spirit, confirmed the presence of liquid water at one time on the dry surface of Mars.
– Tuesday 2 and 3 –
After several failed Mars flying and orbiting attempts between 1960 and 1971, two identical Soviet spacecraft finally reached the Red Planet in November and December 1971 – only to be hit by a major dust storm.
This occurred at the height of space racing when the United States and the Soviet Union competed to demonstrate superior space travel capability in the midst of the Cold War.
The previous spacecraft landed successfully after orbiting Mars at 2, 18 hours, but it landed just 20 seconds before Mars 3 successfully landed on the surface.
Both spacecraft returned images, temperature measurements and information about the gravitational and magnetic fields of Mars to the Soviet Union.
© 2021 AFP