While countries across the globe race with their missions to Mars, China's recently developed 70-meter diameter reflector antenna and Asia's largest completed its acceptance check and is all ready to be usde for the country's first Mars mission, Tianwen-1.
Tianwen, which was launched in July 2020, directly translates to "quest for heavenly truth."
The 72-meter long antennae weighing about 2700 tons is all set to receive its data from the Tianwen-1, which is some 400 million kilometers away from earth and is expected to enter the Red planet's gravity soon.
The high-performance antenna has been estimated to have the size of 10 basketball courts. It was delivered to the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, for it would play a crucial role in the country's Mars mission, reports Global Times.
Speaking to a news publication, Li Chunlai, a deputy chief designer of the project said, "To put it more vividly, sending back data is like shining a laser pointer on the probe at the Earth."
China's Tianwen-1 is pacing towards the Red Planet at a distance of 170 million kilometers away from Earth. It is expected to land in the planet's gravitational field and 'carry out a braking maneuver' and eventually enter the Mars orbit around February 10, a day before Chinese New Year’s Eve, states the report.
However, Chinese scientists have pointed out that another factor to determine the efficiency of the antenna is its accuracy in detecting the signal direction.
According to an earlier report, this ambitious Mars mission may put China among the world's space leaders, if successful. The mission will not just consist of an orbiter, it will also include a rover and a lander - a trifecta that no other nation has been able to pull off till date.
A Mars landing is considered to be one of the most difficult things to achieve. So far, there have been a total of eighteen Mars missions, comprising either landers or rovers. But only ten have been successful. Out of those ten, nine have been by NASA.
Before this, China has carried out several lunar missions but has only made one attempt on Mars. In 2011, it sent an orbiter to the Martian moon Phobos. However, the mission failed and the probe sent by China burned upon entry into Mars' atmosphere.
Aiming to catch up with India, U.S., Russia and the European Union to reach the red planet, China’s Mars mission plans to complete orbiting, landing and roving in one mission.