Three spacecrafts from UAE, China and USA are hurtling towards Mars starting from 2020: UAE’s orbiter known as the Hope probe has successfully entered orbit on its first attempt on February 9th; 24 hours later, the mission was followed by Chinese Tianwen-1 probe, making China the sixth space-faring power to reach the planet; NASA’s Perseverance rover has arrived on the scene a week later dated February 18th. DOES NOT THAT CONSTITUTE A GREAT FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE OF MARS EXPLORATION?
UAE, Hope probe, February 9th
All three spacecrafts left the Earth within days of one another last July. UAE’s spacecraft will orbit the Mars at 22,000 kilometres of altitude and is designed to monitor Martian Weather. When the spacecraft arrived, the Hope probe marked the UAE as only the fifth country in history to reach the red planet and a first for the Arab world. The ambitions of the mission do not stop there. The information gathered as a result of the mission will provide scientists with an idea of what climate dynamics and weather are like in different layers of the Martian atmosphere. Together, this will shed light on how energy and particles, like oxygen and hydrogen, move through the atmosphere and how they even escape Mars.
China, Tianwen-1, February 10th
Tianwen-1, which translates to “questions to heaven” or “questioning the heavens,” settled into an orbit that will bring it within 248 miles from the Martian surface, where it will spend a few months surveying its landing site at the Utopia Planitia region. In May, the lander and rover will detach from the spacecraft and make a daring attempt to land in Utopia Planitia, where a large deposit of water ice lies beneath the planet’s surface. If successful, China will become the second country, after the US, to land and operate a rover on the Martian surface.
USA, Perseverance rover, February 18th
Perseverance, fondly known as Percy, is a car-sized Mars rover designed to explore Jezero crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. The site was chosen for its promise of preserving signs of life: it was once home to an ancient lake and river delta that may have collected and buried microbes and locked them within rocks. The rover is carrying the helicopter Ingenuity, an experimental aircraft that will attempt the first powered flight on another planet. A primary objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology research, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith, paving the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), will send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
For Perseverance sample collection animation video visit NASA’s webpage:
The UAE’s Hope Probe:
Chinese Tianwen-1 Probe: