China’s First Mars Exploration Mission Inches Closer To The Red Planet

China’s first Mars exploration mission Tianwen-1 is currently more than 100 million km away from Earth and is functioning normally, the country’s space agency said on Tuesday. As of Monday, the Mars probe had flown in space for 144 days and travelled more than 360 million kms. It was more than 100 million kms away from Earth and about 12 million kms away from Mars, according to the China National Space Administration.

The Chinese Mars probe named Tianwen-1, or Quest for Heavenly Truth 1, will fulfil three scientific objectives– orbiting the red planet for a comprehensive observation, landing on Martian soil and sending a rover to roam the landing site.

Chang’e 5, the third Chinese spacecraft to land on the moon, is the latest in a series of increasingly ambitious missions being carried out by Beijing.

China’s previous attempt to send an exploratory probe to Mars called Yinghuo-1, in a Russian spacecraft in 2011 failed as shortly after the launch it was declared lost and later burnt during re-entry.

The US, Russia, India and the EU have succeeded in sending missions to Mars, regarded as the most complex space mission.

India became the first Asian country to have successfully launched its Mars orbiter mission– Mangalyaan which entered the orbit of the red planet in 2014. India also became the first country to have entered the Martian orbit in its first attempt.

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