Chinese Tianwen-1 enters orbit around Mars

Chinese Tianwen-1 enters orbit around Mars

Helsinki – China’s first interplanetary mission, Tianwen-1, successfully entered Mars orbit on February 10 after a 202-day journey through deep space.

Tianwen-1 fired a combustion of about 15 minutes on its main engine 3000N at 6:52 a.m. East, allowing the five-ton spacecraft to slow down and be captured by gravity by Mars.

The Mars Orbit Insertion Maneuver is designed to place Tianwen-1 in an elliptical orbit of 400 x 180,000 km inclined 10 degrees, with an orbital period of 10 days.

With Mars located more than 192 million kilometers from Earth and a light time delay of 10 minutes and 40 seconds, braking combustion was necessarily preprogrammed. Intervention will not be possible if a problem occurs.

Tianwen-1 will gradually lower its orbit to allow the observation of Mars. Preparations for the entry, landing and attempted landing of a 240-kilogram solar-powered vehicle will also begin, an event expected to take place in May or June, according to the China Space Science and Technology Corporation.

The orbit is expected to approach 265 km from the surface, allowing a high-resolution camera to return images with better resolution of 0.50 meters per pixel.

This ability will be used to map a landing site for the rover in Utopia Planetia. drop Coordinates From longitude 110,318 degrees east longitude and 24,748 degrees north latitude, it previously appeared in an official Chinese space publication before its removal.

Tianwen 1 joins the Emirati Mission of Hope that arrived Tuesday, In orbit around the red planet. The NASA rover will arrive and make an easy landing attempt on February 18th.

Previously, Soviet, Japanese and American spacecraft had failed the mission’s orbital insertion stage. The Soviet Mars 4 mission was unable to launch its engines and thus continued to overtake Mars, while NASA’s orbiting Mars approached in 1999, ending the mission with the Martian atmosphere.

The study of water and ice is among the goals of science

Tianwen-1 is designed to collect a variety of data, both from orbit and on the surface of Mars.

Said Long Xiao, a planetary scientist with China University of Geosciences Space News Tianwen-1 is equipped with a total of 13 scientific payloads to study Mars morphology and topography, study surface regolith, search for water ice using radars, study surface material composition and properties of the ionosphere, climate, environment and magnetic field.

“The most unique goal is to research and map the distribution of water ice at the surface and below the surface,” says Long. Two radar probes will operate autonomously, one of them is aboard the orbiter. It will conduct a global survey but focus more on high-latitude regions. The other is on the rover. “Because the processing and interpretation of radar data is so complex, both ground and satellite radar data can provide more reliable results than one,” says Long.

Tianwen-1 in deep space in October 2020, photographed by a separate camera.
Tianwen-1 in deep space in October 2020, photographed by a separate camera. Credit: CNSA

Zhang Xiaoping, an assistant professor at Macau University of Science and Technology, also highlighted the potential of the radar payloads.

“We want to use the radar system to measure the subsurface structure of Mars’ surface, especially for buried water ice. This will allow us to study not only the basic geological structures of Mars, but also the potential source of water ice that provides long-term human habitation.” Space News.

“It is also important to measure the thickness and layers of ice and carbon dioxide in the polar region, to understand the seasonal developments in the Martian atmosphere. By combining the results of orbital radar and ground penetration, we will have a better understanding of the soil structure and evolution at the landing site.”

Deep space flight

Tianwen -1 Release From Wenchang, southern China, July 23, 2020, aboard the Long March 5 heavy-lift missile. The new launcher decisively returned to flight in December 2019, having been idle for more than 900 days after the 2017 failure.

The spacecraft performed four trajectory-correcting maneuvers to improve its orbit and a greater maneuver in deep space to alter its orbital inclination.

The European Space Agency has provided support to China for the LEOP and subsequently in transit between Earth and Mars with highly accurate tracking via its Delta-DOR (Single-Way Differential Delta Range) measurements campaigns. This was implemented using ESA deep space antennas with a diameter of 35 meters and located in Cebreros, Spain, and New Nursia, Western Australia.

The orbiter Tianwen-1 has a design life of 1 Martian year, or 687 Earth days. The design period of the rover, to be named by public vote and subsequent panel decision, is approximately 90 Earth days.

The mission is based on technologies and capabilities developed through the Chang’e lunar orbiting program, landing craft and rover, as well as head-shielding and parachute expertise from the Shenzhou human spaceflight endeavors.

China is also developing a mission to return a sample to Mars for about 2028-30.

The Chinese Tianwen-1 probe is seen on Mars undergoing a thermal vacuum test in this frame taken from a 2020 China Central Television report. Credit: CCTV

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