Missions to Mars Become Prime Focus for All 2021 Space Explorations
File image of Mars.
The year 2021 will usher in some exciting programmes for space exploration after 2020 saw the accomplishment of some major feats. Countries like the United Arab Emirates, China, and the United States will have their focus on Mars. UAE’s Hope Probe, China’s Tianwen-1 and NASA's Perseverance rover will be landing on the Red Planet this year.
China’s Tianwen-1 which translates to "Quest for Heavenly Truth" is the country’s first mission to Mars. The spacecraft will be landing at the Utopia Planitia region of the planet. It will be the second country after the US to attempt a soft landing on Mars. This ambitious move will take the spacecraft some time as it will spend a few months preparing to descend to the surface, assessing the planned landing site.
China’s Mars mission will gather crucial data about the Martian soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere, and search for signs of water. A paper published in Nature Journal by the Chinese team last year mentioned that if the mission goes successfully, it would signify a major technical breakthrough.
The Hope Probe by UAE will make a challenging maneuver to slow down and enter Mars' orbit with an altitude above the planet as low as 1,000km on February 9, 2021. Given that the spacecraft makes a successful landing, the Hope Probe will spend a Martian year and will study the planet's atmosphere and understand its weather. One year on Mars is equivalent to 687 Earth days.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We have lift-off. H2A, the rocket carrying the Hope Probe to space, has launched from the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HopeMarsMission?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HopeMarsMission</a> <a href="https://t.co/pRKZLOL7NT">pic.twitter.com/pRKZLOL7NT</a></p>— Hope Mars Mission (@HopeMarsMission) <a href="https://twitter.com/HopeMarsMission/status/1284978102058258434?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 19, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is one of the foremost organisations when it comes to anything involving space. NASA’s mission to Mars is named Perseverance and it will be landing on the planet in February. The spacecraft carrying the rover was successfully launched in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. After traveling through space for about seven months, the Perseverance rover will land at Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18, 2021. According to the US space agency, Perseverance rover will carry the first samples in history from another planet back to Earth. The samples collected will help future scientists to study Martian rock, broken rock and dust to look for evidence of potential microbial life present in Mars' ancient past.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I’m on a one-way mission to Mars, but the samples I collect there will be the first things ever to make a round trip. In the search for signs of ancient life on Mars, see how super-clean sample tubes make for super-clean science. <a href="https://t.co/icIt9rVe00">https://t.co/icIt9rVe00</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CountdownToMars?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CountdownToMars</a> <a href="https://t.co/9DzY9biZEL">pic.twitter.com/9DzY9biZEL</a></p>— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) <a href="https://twitter.com/NASAPersevere/status/1341471549023350784?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 22, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
This year might also witness the launch of another powerful telescope by NASA. The James Webb Telescope (JWST) is scheduled to launch this year. The JWST or Webb will be a large infrared telescope with a 6.5-meter primary mirror and will be launched on an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana in 2021. The telescope will be a one of its kind observatory after the Hubble Telescope and will assist thousands of astronomers worldwide in their studies of space.