At 12.41 p.m. (6.41 a.m. in Italy), the Tianwen-1 probe took off from the Wenchang Space Center in China and will reach Mars’ orbit next February.
Even China “points” to the Red Planet. At 12.41 local time (6.41 am in Italy), the Tianwen-1 space probe took off from the Wenchang Space Center in the province of Hainan in China. The probe – consisting of orbiter, lander and rover – took off on the transport rocket “Long March 5 Y4”. It will reach the orbit of the Red Planet in February next year. According to reports on Chinese state television Cgtn, the launch took place without any problems. The name of the probe is very evocative and sums up the meaning of the mission well. In Mandarin Chinese, Tianwen-1 (天問一号S, Tiān wèn yī hào) means “search for celestial truth”. Once it reaches the orbit of Mars, the probe will land on the Red Planet to analyze the composition of the soil. The goal is to search for traces of past and present life on Mars.
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Tianwen-1: China launches its first probe to Mars
Tianwen-1 is the second probe that the Chinese Space Agency (CNSA) launches towards Mars. Already in November 2011, Beijing had tried to reach the Red Planet with the Yinghuo-1 probe launched together with the Russian Fobos-Grunt from the Baikonur cosmodrome. Unfortunately, however, the Russian probe that was supposed to take care of the separation from Earth orbit had a failure and the two probes remained in orbit around the Earth. On November 17, 2011, the Chinese state media announced that the CNSA had declared the Yinghuo-1 probe “lost”. Unlike the unfortunate Yinghuo-1 probe, Tianwen-1 is expected to reach Mars orbit in February 2021. After two or three months, the probe should then attempt to land in the expanse of Utopia Planitia. If the mission is successful, China will become the third country (after the United States and Russia) to bring a probe to Mars.
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