China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft efficiently rolled into Mars orbit Wednesday morning, the China Nationwide House Administration confirmed. The probe’s arrival makes China the sixth space-faring energy to succeed in the planet. It’s additionally the second nation this month to have fun its first Mars mission, arriving a day after the UAE’s Hope orbiter entered Martian orbit Tuesday morning.

Tianwen-1, which interprets to “questions to heaven” or “questioning the heavens,” is a five-ton bundle of a rover, lander, and orbiter that launched from Wenchang in south China in July final yr. China was certainly one of three nations to make use of a slim, roughly two-month window to launch spacecraft to Mars because it intently aligned with Earth of their orbits across the Solar — an alignment that solely occurs as soon as each two years.

Chinese language state media Wednesday morning confirmed Tianwen-1 accomplished a profitable braking maneuver to ease into the orbit of Mars after touring a complete of 295 million miles. Tianwen-1’s orbital-control engine ignited at 6:52AM ET and fired for 15 minutes to quickly decelerate its cruising velocity for a gradual orbital insertion.

“Exploring the vast universe is the common dream of all mankind. We will cooperate sincerely and go hand in hand with countries all over the world to make mankind’s exploration of space go further,” Zhang Kejian, director of the China Nationwide House Administration, stated in a press release Wednesday.

The spacecraft settled into an orbit that may deliver it inside 248 miles from the Martian floor, the place it’ll spend a couple of months surveying its touchdown web site on the Utopia Planitia area. In Might, the lander and rover will detach from the spacecraft and make a daring try to land in Utopia Planitia, the place a big deposit of water ice lies beneath the planet’s floor. If profitable, China will turn out to be the second nation, after the US, to land and function a rover on the Martian floor.

Tianwen-1’s touchdown try was initially deliberate for April, however the China Nationwide House Administration indicated it was modified to Might or June. The touchdown web site is about 1,147 miles — roughly the drive from Miami to New York — from the goal web site of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which is able to try a touchdown on February 18th.

With the Tianwen-1 rover on Mars and an orbiter scanning from above, China is getting down to hint the distribution of subsurface water ice to get a greater understanding of the planet’s geologic construction. The lander is basically a supply platform, offering a ramp for the rover to roll off of and traverse the Martian terrain, the place it should additionally analyze the water ice as a possible useful resource for long-term human missions on Mars, in line with SpaceNews.

China’s debut trek to Mars comes as Beijing ramps up its position in house exploration. Whereas Tianwen-1 was flying to Mars, the nation went to the moon and back with its whirlwind Chang’e 5 sample-return mission, the fifth mission in China’s Lunar Exploration Program and its first mission to deliver lunar dust again to Earth.

Tianwen-1’s profitable soar into Mars orbit garnered applause from NASA and the European House Company. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s high science official, congratulated China and stated “there is much to discover about the mysteries of Mars and we look forward to your contributions!”

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