Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China’s first Mars exploration mission, known as “Tianwen-1” appears to have a targeted Thursday liftoff expected between just after midnight and 3 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, assuming the weather cooperates.

China’s Mars rover.
Courtesy: James Head

Meanwhile, more details on China’s Mars rover have been reported.

The rover will work for over 90 days on Mars. The robot is equipped with a 2 foot (60 centimeters)-high mast that supports two panorama cameras on its top to avoid obstacles when moving forward, as well as a multispectral camera to identify minerals.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Tilting solar panels

China’s Mars rover also has four “wings” – solar panels to provide power. The rover can adjust the angles of its solar panels to receive more solar power, according to Liu Tongjie, deputy director of the Moon Exploration and Space Engineering Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Liu Tongjie, deputy director of the Moon Exploration and Space Engineering Center of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“As Mars receives less solar energy than the Earth and the Moon, the area [of its solar panels] is larger. It can angle its solar panels according to the direction of the sunlight. The more vertical the angle is, the more solar energy it will receive,” Liu told China Central Television (CCTV).

Other instruments onboard include a detection radar, magnetometer and meteorological instruments.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

 

 

Subsurface studies

The Red Planet rover can detect the ingredients of soil 33 feet (10 meters) underneath the surface of Mars and of ice 328 feet (100 meters) below the surface.

The rover can move at a speed of 200 meters per hour on Mars’ surface.

Liu said the thin atmosphere of the Mars poses challenges to the rover and the landing platform during their landing process.

Credit: Wan, W.X., Wang, C., Li, C.L. et al.

Landing process

“The density of the Mars atmosphere is relatively low. It is equivalent to one percent of the Earth’s standard atmosphere. So we have to equip the landing platform with parachutes, which is more complex and difficult,” said Liu.

The landing process takes only seven to eight minutes. During this period, the landing platform can only rely on itself, Liu explained.

Why do humans want to explore Mars?

Go to this informative video at:

Leave a Reply