China on Mars

Actually, just in Mars orbit, at least for now.

Ya, I know. I left you hanging. Sorry about that but I got kinda busy on writing stuff. Speaking of which, my latest short story released this weekend in the anthology “Twilight Tales”. Check in out in the sidebar.

Tianwen-1 selfie

China’s first Mars probe, Tianwen-1, successfully entered into a highly elliptical Mars orbit on Wednesday. I know that some folks don’t consider that good news, for any number of reasons. I won’t get into that here today, but I will point out that if nothing else a little peaceful competition between rival countries and ideologies in space didn’t hurt Apollo right? Right? So a successful landing by China on Mars is still not going to pass up the U.S., not with the long gaps between Mars launch windows, so many existing NASA successes in Planetary Science in general, and Mars in particular, to catch up to and with SpaceX aggressively seeking Mars, we can all still say with confidence that the U.S. will continue to lead. Still, we need to understand they wouldn’t have named the probe Tianwen-1 if they didn’t have future intentions of plans for a Tianwen-2 and more. If you are one of those folks who think that Chinese advancements in space is a bad thing for whatever reason, then…ya. I welcome it.

BTW, I used all of the attached images from CCTV and the CNSA without permission or guilt.

Anyway, besides serving as a Mars to Earth relay for the lander-rover (if it survives long enough), and perhaps future Chinese efforts on Mars, the orbiting probe will also use radar to scan the surface and subsurface of the planet, mapping and studying the geography and soil and looking for water ice.

If it lands successfully, the lander will make history, distinguishing China as one of only three (many would say one of just two) countries to operate active robotic probes on the surface of Mars. After that, it’ll do pretty much what all Mars landers and rovers do, study the dirt and sniff the air looking for life and more of the various things that might be used to help us live there someday. Like the Chinese Mars orbiter, the rover will also carry radar instruments to help in the science that it will perform. The landing attempt will be made in May.

~ by Bill Housley on February 15, 2021.

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