Tianwen-1

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Tianwen-1
Mars Global Remote Sensing Orbiter and Small Rover (2020).png
Tianwen-1 undergoing tests in 2019
NamesHuoxing-1 (2018–20)[1][2][3]
Mission typePlanetary science with an orbiter, lander and rover
OperatorCNSA
Mission durationorbiter: ≥ 1 Earth year
rover: 90 sols[4]
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeorbiter, lander, rover
Launch massTotal: 5,000 kg (11,000 lb)
orbiter: 3,175 kg (7,000 lb)
rover:240 kg (530 lb)
Dimensionsrover: 2.0 m × 1.65 m × 0.8 m
Start of mission
Launch dateJuly 2020[5][6][7]
RocketLong March 5
Launch siteWenchang Spacecraft Launch Site LC101
ContractorChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
Mars orbiter
Spacecraft componentorbiter
Orbital insertionFebruary 11 to February 24, 2021[7]
Mars lander
Spacecraft componentlander[8]
Landing dateApril 23, 2021[7] (proposed)
Landing siteUtopia Planitia (2 preliminary sites)[9]
Mars rover
Spacecraft componentrover
Landing dateafter April 23, 2021[7] (proposed)
Landing siteUtopia Planitia (2 preliminary sites)[9]
 

Tianwen-1 (known as Huoxing-1, HX-1 during development[10]) is a planned mission by China to send a spacecraft, which consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, to Mars.[11] The name "Tianwen" (Chinese: 天問), 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.[12] The mission is planned to be launched in July 2020[6][13] with a Long March 5 heavy lift rocket.[14][15][16] Its stated objectives are to search for evidence of both current and past life, and to assess the planet's environment.[4][17]

Overview[edit]

China's Mars program started in 2009 in partnership with Russia. However, the Russian spacecraft Fobos-Grunt, carrying a piggy-backed Chinese orbiter Yinghuo-1, crashed on 15 January 2012, days after lift-off. Subsequently China began an independent Mars project[18]; the current mission was formally approved by Chinese authorities in early 2016[9].

The new Chinese Mars spacecraft is developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), and managed by the National Space Science Centre (NSSC) in Beijing.[14] The lander carrying the rover will use a parachute, retrorockets, and an airbag to achieve landing.[19]

The rover will be powered by solar panels, probe the ground with radar, perform chemical analyses on the soil, and look for biomolecules and biosignatures.[4]

The priorities of the mission include finding both current and previous life, and evaluating the planet's surface and environment. Solo and joint explorations of the Mars orbiter and rover will produce maps of the Martian surface topography, soil characteristics, material composition, water ice, atmosphere, ionosphere field, and other scientific data will be collected.[20] Simulated landings have been performed for the mission preparations by the Beijing Institute of Space Mechanics and Electricity.[11]

This Mars mission would be a demonstration of technology needed for a Mars sample return mission proposed for the 2030s.[14] Another plan involves the 2020 HX-1 mission to cache samples for retrieval in 2030.[21]

Mission planning[edit]

In late 2019, the Xi'an Aerospace Propulsion Institute, a subsidiary of CASC, stated that the performance and control of the future spacecraft's propulsion system has been verified and had passed all requisite pre-flight tests, including tests for hovering, hazard avoidance, deceleration, and landing. The main component of the lander's propulsion system consists of a single engine that provides 7,500 Newtons of thrust. The spacecraft's supersonic parachute system had also been successfully tested previously.[9]

CNSA initially focused on the Chryse Planitia and on the Elysium Mons regions of Mars in its search for possible landing sites for the lander and its associated rover. However, in September 2019, during a joint meeting in Geneva of the European Planetary Science Congress-Division for Planetary Sciences, Chinese presenters announced that two preliminary sites in the Utopia Planitia region of Mars have instead been chosen for the anticipated landing attempt, with each site having a landing ellipse of approximately 100 by 40 kilometers.[9]

On January 23, 2020, China Youth Daily reported that, according to sources from CASC, the Mars probe will be launched in July 2020 by the Long March 5 Y4 carrier rocket. This was the first time that China has officially announced the month in which the probe will be launched from Earth.[5] The newspaper also reported that the Long March 5 Y4 rocket's hydrogen-oxygen engine has completed a 100-seconds test, which was the last engine test prior to the final assembly of the carrier rocket.

Mockup of the rover at the 69th International Astronautical Congress

Scientific instruments[edit]

The orbiter and rover will carry a total of 12 instruments:[14]

Orbiter
  • Medium Resolution Camera (MRC) with a resolution of 100 m from a 400 km orbit[11]
  • High Resolution Camera (HRC) with a resolution of 2 m from a 400 km orbit[11]
  • Mars Magnetometer (MM)
  • Mars Mineral Spectrometer (MMS), to determine elementary composition
  • Orbiter Subsurface Radar (OSR)
  • Mars Ion and Neutral Particle Analyzer (MINPA)[7]
Rover
  • Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR), to image about 100 m (330 ft) below the Martian surface[17]
  • Mars Surface Magnetic Field Detector (MSMFD)
  • Mars Meteorological Measurement Instrument (MMMI)
  • Mars Surface Compound Detector (MSCD)
  • Multi-Spectrum Camera (MSC)
  • Navigation and Topography Camera (NTC)[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "中国火星探测器露真容 明年发射". 2019-10-12.
  2. ^ The Global Exploration Roadmap. NASA. International Space Exploration Coordination Group. January 2018.
  3. ^ China's Deep Space Exploration Roadmap. 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "China Exclusive: China's aim to explore Mars". Xinhua News. 21 March 2016. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  5. ^ a b "China to launch Mars probe in July". ChinaDaily.com. 23 January 2020. Retrieved 2020-01-23.
  6. ^ a b "China shows first images of Mars rover, aims for 2020 mission". Reuters. Retrieved 24 August 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f 2020中国火星探测计划(根据叶院士报告整理 Published in 2018.
  8. ^ "It's official: China's first Mars lander debuts". China Global Television Network. 14 November 2019. Retrieved 2020-01-08.
  9. ^ a b c d e Jones, Andrew (8 November 2019). "China Says Its Mars Landing Technology Is Ready For 2020". IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  10. ^ "中国火星探测器露真容 明年发射". 2019-10-12.
  11. ^ a b c d Jones, Andrew (9 February 2018). "China simulates Mars landing in preparation for 2020 mission". GBTimes. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  12. ^ "China's First Mars Exploration Mission Named Tianwen-1". XinhuaNet. 24 April 2020. Retrieved 24 April 2020.
  13. ^ "Interview with Zhang Rongqiao, the man behind China's mission to Mars". Youtube. Retrieved 24 August 2016. China Central Television
  14. ^ a b c d Jones, Andrew (22 February 2016). "China is racing to make the 2020 launch window to Mars". GBTimes. Retrieved 2016-02-22.
  15. ^ Berger, Eric (22 February 2016). "China pressing ahead with orbiter and lander mission to Mars". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  16. ^ Lu, Shen (4 November 2016). "China says it plans to land rover on Mars in 2020". CNN News. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  17. ^ a b The subsurface penetrating radar on the rover of China's Mars 2020 mission. B. Zhou, S. X. Shen, Y. C. Ji, etal. 2016 16th International Conference on Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). 13–16 June 2016.
  18. ^ Nan, Wu (24 June 2014). "Next stop - Mars: China aims to send rover to Red Planet within six years". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  19. ^ Jones, Andrew (21 March 2016). "China reveals more details of its 2020 Mars mission". GB Times. Retrieved 2016-03-22.
  20. ^ Zhou; et al. (13–16 June 2016). "The subsurface penetrating radar on the rover of China's Mars 2020 mission". 2016 16th International Conference on Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). pp. 1–4. doi:10.1109/ICGPR.2016.7572700. ISBN 978-1-5090-5181-6.
  21. ^ China Plans To Land A Rover On Mars In 2020. Alexandra Lozovschi, Inquisitr. January 17, 2019.

External links[edit]