JUN 26, 2020 3:46 PM PDT

China to Launch First Mars Mission in July

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has announced that it will launch Tianwen-1 ('Quest for Heavenly Truth') in July. The spacecraft consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover- a triad no other nation has accomplished on its first mission to Mars. 

If successful, the mission would mark dramatic progress for China's space program, and 'put China among elite company,' according to Mason Peck, an aerospace engineer at Cornell University. 

China has previously made several lunar landers. Its only other attempt to Mars however, an orbiter launched alongside a Russian mission to the Martian moon, Phobos, was unsuccessful. 

So far, only 10 of 18 lander and rover missions to Mars have landed. While nine of these successes were by NASA, one was by Russia; however, it lost communications almost immediately upon arrival. 

The CNSA chief mission architect, Zhang Rongqiao, said in a July 2019 lecture that their goal is not just to land, but also to 'explore and gather as much scientific data as possible.' Besides this, however, the CNSA has released few details of its mission to the press and has not yet announced which of two potential landing sites it prefers. 

Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Ariza State University, said, "I speculate [CNSA engineers] are looking to particularly demonstrate a safe landing."

Earlier reports say that Tianwen-1 should be able to reach Mars within 7 months of launch, although the orbiter will only be able to release the lander after several more months. The orbiter is then expected to relay communications to Earth for around 23 months, or one Martian year.

Later this year, China also plans to launch its Chang' e 5 mission to bring rocks back from the Moon- something that has not been done since the 1976 Soviet Union Luna mission. Should Tianwen-1's and Chang' e 5's missions go to plan, CNSA has suggested that it may attempt to return samples from Mars from around 2030. 


Sources: Science Mag, News 18

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
You May Also Like
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
NOV 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
The Mystery of the Blue Ring Nebula is Solved
NOV 22, 2020
The Mystery of the Blue Ring Nebula is Solved
In 2004, the Blue Ring Nebula was first identified. It appeared as a faint gas blob with a star at its center and was un ...
NOV 24, 2020
Earth & The Environment
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will extend sea level monitoring
NOV 24, 2020
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will extend sea level monitoring
Days ago, a new satellite was launched from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the ...
JAN 08, 2021
Space & Astronomy
New Findings Suggest Dark Matter Doesn't Exist
JAN 08, 2021
New Findings Suggest Dark Matter Doesn't Exist
The existence of dark matter has been considered a 'given' for decades as a way to understand some of the less e ...
FEB 21, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Electrical Storms, Disaster & Auroras From a Flipping Magnetic Field
FEB 21, 2021
Electrical Storms, Disaster & Auroras From a Flipping Magnetic Field
As we move through space, the magnetic field of the planet, which (the dynamo theory states is) generated by its metal c ...
APR 13, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Think again: does the presence of oxygen really mean life on other planets?
APR 13, 2021
Think again: does the presence of oxygen really mean life on other planets?
Does the presence of oxygen mean the existence of life? That’s a question that scientists have been debating over ...
Loading Comments...