China launches its mission to Mars ahead of the United States. The Chinese mission Tianwen -1 consists of a rover, lander, and orbiter. It is the country’s first solo mission to the red planet after the failure of an earlier attempt in collaboration with Russia.

The present launch was from China's own soil and it hopes to beat others in the race. The UAE has already sent its probe prior to China and America plans to launch NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover by the end of July. It will be a seven-month journey for Tianwen-1 to reach the destination.

Once there, the orbiter will orbit the red planet while the rover and lander will land on the surface of Mars. Obviously, the red planet would soon be buzzing with human activity and artificial intelligence could rule the day with Renewable Energy.

CNBC outlines the plans by China. The purpose of Tianwen -1 is to map the geological structure of the planet. It will also study the nature of its soil apart from water-ice distribution.

Other studies include the composition of its surface material and feeling the pulse of the red planet. The exercise will provide a wide range of data for scientists that could pave the road for subsequent human settlement. The United States already has its Curiosity rover on Mars. It has been there for more than five years and the success of China’s mission would be a big feat.

China wants to leave its mark on space research

President Xi Jinping is keen to see China become a “great space power as soon as possible.” The country has already laid emphasis on space-related activities but has faced setbacks. In 2011, its attempts to launch Yinghuo-1 failed. It was supposed to be on a Russian spacecraft launched by a Ukrainian rocket.

In 2017, there was another failure with the Long March 5 rocket. However, China tasted success when it became the first nation to land a spacecraft on the so-called dark side of the moon. That was in February 2020 and it must have unearthed much useful information by now regarding the secrets of the Moon.

CNBC mentions others in line to conduct their missions to Mars. The UAE has successfully launched its Hope earlier this month and the United States is likely to follow soon.

As per the planetary configuration, the distance between Mars and Earth is minimum every 26 months and every country wants to utilize that time slot. NASA plans to launch its Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover on July 30. Its aim will be to study lifeforms on the red planet and seek signs of habitable conditions of the past.

The Tianwen-1 probe of China off to Mars

According to The Standard UK, China wants to share space with the US and the UAE on Mars. Its Tianwen-1 probe blasted off from Wenchang Space Launch Centre. It was the second flight to Mars within a week. The first one was the United Arab Emirates orbiter Hope launched from Japan. The unmanned probe of China is its first independent mission to another planet and it will be on the lookout for underground water apart from evidence of past life.

Tianwen-1 should get into orbit around Mars in February and locate a possible landing site on Utopia Planitia. This is an area where NASA detected possible evidence of underground ice. The probe will attempt to land in April or May. The rover weighs 530 lbs, its size is that of a golf cart and it will operate on solar power. The life span of the rover is about three months, and that of the orbiter is two years.

China has capabilities

The Standard UK adds that an earlier attempt in 2011 with Russian involvement failed and this time China is on its own.

Incidentally, the country is a late starter but its space program has made rapid advances. Its first astronaut flew in 2003, and last year, it landed its spacecraft on the far side of the moon. No other country has done that. Landing on Mars is a difficult job and so far, only the Americans have done that more than once. Two of its rovers, InSight and Curiosity, are on the planet. In addition, there are spacecraft from other countries exploring Mars from orbit. Each of them has their own agenda.