MAR 08, 2020 12:16 PM PDT

2020 Has a Lot of Martian Missions in Store

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Space agencies typically send missions to Mars once every several years, depending on the need for scientific exploration and the technological capabilities at that specific point in time. But while we’ve sent missions to Mars before, the year 2020 will see a plethora of different Mars-centric missions, and many are wondering: why so many Mars missions this year?

The answer lies with the convenience of the planetary alignment with the Sun. More specifically, mid-2020 provides a unique opportunity to launch spacecraft to Mars because of a convenient rocket fuel-savings technique that is often referred to as the Hohmann Transfer Orbit. This occurs when Mars’ elliptical orbit around the Sun would intercept a spacecraft launched from Earth in less than a year after launching.

As you might come to expect, Earth’s orbit around the Sun is somewhat elliptical too, and this means that there are periods when Earth and Mars are closer or further away from one another. Space agencies take advantage of the timeframes when the two worlds are closest together to send missions to Mars, as it saves money and takes substantially less time.

The Hohmann Transfer Orbit only presents itself once every few years, and it just so happens that several space agencies have been holding onto Mars-centric missions for just the right time to launch, and 2020 is the soonest launch opportunity.

In addition to NASA’s Perseverance rover (formerly Mars 2020), The European Space Agency plans to launch its ExoMars mission around the same timeframe. In addition, the United Arab Emirates is planning to launch its Hope Mars Mission for July 2020, and China is planning to launch its Huoxing-1 Mission for Mars in the same month.

Future missions will likely follow, but not until the next Hohmann Transfer Orbit opportunity.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
APR 21, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
New Pulsar Detected in Southern Hemisphere
APR 21, 2021
New Pulsar Detected in Southern Hemisphere
A new pulsar has been discovered with images from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope, a low-frequency radio t ...
MAY 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Satellite Images Show Accelerating Retreat of World's Glaciers
MAY 01, 2021
Satellite Images Show Accelerating Retreat of World's Glaciers
In a new study, an international team of researchers have found that almost all of the world’s glaciers are in ret ...
JUL 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Giant Plumes on Saturn's Moon May Hold Signs of Life
JUL 08, 2021
Giant Plumes on Saturn's Moon May Hold Signs of Life
Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, has giant erupting plumes of water that, scientists say, can not be explained by known g ...
JUL 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Cluster of Free-Floating Planets Captured by Kepler Telescope
JUL 09, 2021
Cluster of Free-Floating Planets Captured by Kepler Telescope
The Kepler Space Telescope has captured evidence of mysterious free-floating planets, or planets that are alone in deep ...
JUL 18, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Climate Change has Tilted the Axis of the Earth
JUL 18, 2021
Climate Change has Tilted the Axis of the Earth
The axis of the Earth intersects the planet at the magnetic pole, and Earth's poles are known to wander. They can even f ...
JUL 29, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Hubble Spots Evidence of Water on Jupiter's Moon
JUL 29, 2021
Hubble Spots Evidence of Water on Jupiter's Moon
Scientists have spotted evidence of water vapor in the atmosphere of Jupiter's moon, Ganymede. The corresponding stu ...
Loading Comments...