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China launches first mission to explore Mars

China launches first mission to explore Mars
China has launched its first Tianwen 1 mission to explore Mars. The launch was broadcast live by the Chinese TV channel CGTN.

The spacecraft was launched from the Changzheng 5 heavy launch vehicle from the Wenchang Cosmodrome in Hainan in southern China.

In 36 minutes after launch, the device entered orbit.

The Tianwen 1 mission includes an orbital station, a lander and a rover. They are slated to reach Mars by April 21, 2021.

After entering Mars orbit, a lander with a rover on board will land from the station. The latter is equipped with several cameras (including multispectral), sensors for measuring the magnetic field, meteorological measurements and a GPR. The objectives of the program include finding evidence of life on the planet (both past and present), mapping Mars, and studying the soil and atmosphere of the planet.

China began developing a Mars exploration program in 2011 in partnership with Russia - then, along with the Russian device Phobos-Grunt, designed to obtain samples from Mars and Phobos, the Chinese device Inho-1 was also launched from Baikonur. As a result, the mission failed - due to  technical problems, Phobos-Grunt could not leave the Earth's orbit and soon burned up in the dense layers of the atmosphere. Together with it, Inkho-1 was destroyed.

After a bad start, the Chinese authorities decided to start an independent program to explore Mars. The Tianwen 1 mission was approved in early 2016.

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