On July 23, China's first Mars probe, Tianwen-1, was successfully launched from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. "Tianwen-1" Mars exploration mission is another major space exploration project of China after the "Chang'e series" lunar exploration mission.
According to the plan, Tianwen-1 will orbit Mars from February 11 to February 24, 2021, and land a Mars rover on the surface of Mars on April 23, 2021 to conduct more than 90 days of exploration work. In other words, "Tianwen-1" will realize all three major missions of "encirclement, landing and inspection", which is unprecedented in world space history and might face unknown challenges.
Mars is one planet in the solar system that closely matches the Earth's environment. Understanding Mars is of great value to the study of the Earth's early history and the origin of life. One day human beings might even colonize the planet. Mars has inspired our fantasies for long. In the science fiction film "Mars Rescue," Mark, the protagonist, survived on Mars by planting potatoes. In ancient China, Mars was called "Yin Huo” —"Yin" refers to the red light emitted by Mars due to the rich iron oxide in the soil while "Huo" was added since little was known to our ancestors about the fiery planet.
For decades, countries across the world have been exploring Mars unremittingly. The year 2020 is the biennial Mars year. On October 14, Mars will make a close approach to the Earth, in fact, it will be the shortest distance between the two planets, unleashing a slew of launches, all meant to take advantage of the opportunity. If one were to miss this golden window, they would have to wait another two years. On July 20, the United Arab Emirates "Al-Amal" Mars probe was launched and after China's "Tianwen 1", the United States “Perseverance " is also set for launch.
"Tianwen-1" is an important step for China to go deep into space, but the country has had its eyes set on the red planet for a while now. In 2011, China's first Mars probe, Yinghuo-1, took off with the Russian probe "Hitchhiker", but it crashed unexpectedly, which also strengthened China's determination to explore Mars independently. Since then, China has completed scientific research on key technologies such as Mars exploration orbit design, communication system for tracking, telemetry and command, autonomous navigation and surface soft landing, laying a technical foundation for this autonomous Mars exploration.
The name of "Tianwen series" of China's planetary exploration mission is derived from the long poem "Tianwen" by Qu Yuan, a poet in the Warring States period. It means that there is a long way to go in search of scientific truth and endless pursuit of scientific and technological innovation. As we continue to move into the deep space, we might be closer to understanding our neighbour and even establishing human colonies there.
監 制：戴 凡
編 導：劉璟 吳婧 白玥 孫磊 高志偉 佟明月