China’s First Mars Mission – TIANWEN-1
Top Current Affairs 27th May 2020
Source | Indian Express
GS Paper III: Science and Technology – developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
- This is China’s First Mars Mission which is planned to be launched in July 2020.
- Named after the ancient Chinese poem ‘Questions to Heaven’, the Tianwen-1, an all-in-one orbiter, lander and rover will search the Martian surface for water, ice, investigate soil characteristics, and study the atmosphere, among completing other objectives.
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Context: China has planned to launch its first Mars mission, the ‘Tianwen-1’, in July, which is expected to land on the Red Planet’s surface in the first quarter of 2021.
What you should know about China’s First Mars Mission – Tianwen-1?
- Tianwen-1 is an all-in-one orbiter, lander and rover which will search the Martian surface for water, ice, investigate soil characteristics, and study the atmosphere, among completing other objectives.
- The name “Tianwen”, which means Heavenly Questions or Questions to Heaven, comes from the long poem of the same name written by Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), one of the greatest poets of ancient China.
- The Tianwen-1 mission will lift off on a Long March 5 rocket. The success of the mission will make China the third country to achieve a Mars landing after the USSR and the United States.
- The Chinese mission is expected to take off in late July, around the same time when NASA is launching its own Mars mission– the ambitious ‘Perseverance’ which aims to collect Martian samples and bring them back to Earth in a two-part campaign.
- This Chinese mission will be the first to place a ground-penetrating radar on the Martian surface, which will be able to study local geology, as well as rock, ice, and dirt distribution. Two candidate landing sites have been identified, one of them being Utopia Planitia.
- China’s previous ‘Yinghuo-1’ Mars mission, which had launched on a Russian spacecraft, had failed after it could not leave the Earth’s orbit and disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean in 2012.
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About the Previous Mars Missions
- It was in 1971 when USSR became the first country to carry out a Mars landing– its ‘Mars 3’ lander being able to transmit data for 20 seconds from the Martian surface before failing.
- The country made its second and Mars landing two years later in 1973.
- The second country to reach Mars’s surface, the US, holds the record for the most number of Mars landings.
- Since 1976, it has achieved 8 successful Mars landings, the latest being the ‘InSight’ in 2019 (launched in 2018).
- India and the European Space Agency have been able to place their spacecraft in Mars’s orbit.
- India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or ‘Mangalyaan’ was able to do so in September 2014, almost a year after its launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh.
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