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
FEB 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 02, 2020
NASA Officially Retires the Spitzer Space Telescope
NASA is always sending spacecraft into space to explore the universe around us; be it the close-proximity stellar neighb ...
FEB 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 09, 2020
NASA's Christina Koch Returns From Space After Shattering Records
NASA astronaut Christina Koch set a new record at the end of 2019 when she spent more consecutive days in space than any ...
FEB 11, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 11, 2020
Why China Was Banned from the International Space Station
The International Space Station is just that – a place where international space agencies can work together in an ...
FEB 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 16, 2020
Just How Powerful is a Piece of Space Debris?
One of the most commonly discussed topics in space science today is the space junk problem, in which space junk collides ...
MAR 03, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 03, 2020
What Makes Black Holes So Mysterious?
Black holes are mysterious objects that have long tickled the interest of astronomers and physicists alike. They’r ...
MAR 17, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 17, 2020
This Supermassive Black Hole Ejected Matter Faster Than 99% the Speed of Light
Almost a year ago, astronomers released the first true image of a black hole. All efforts were focused on a supermassive ...
Loading Comments...