After NASA's Perseverance Rover, China has now announced its first-ever independent Mars mission, the Tianwen-1, which directly translates to "quest for heavenly truth."
According to ScienceMag.org, 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. China's mission is set to launch in July this year. 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.
According to the scientists working on the mission, they have been prohibited by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to speak to the press, ScienceMag reports. Some reports suggest that this may be a measure to reduce expectations from the July mission.
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.
The CNSA said all of China’s planetary exploration missions in the future will be named the Tianwen series, signifying the Chinese nation’s perseverance in pursuing truth and science and exploring nature and the universe, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
China in recent years has emerged as a major space power with manned space missions and landing a rover in the dark side of the moon. It is currently building a space station of its own.
In other news, NASA has now postponed its Perseverance rover mission, which was supposed to take off on July 20, because of a processing delay. As of now, NASA has said that the mission will take off on July 22.
(With inputs from PTI)