Home South pole ice 1st country to ‘Master Mars’ – China releases stunning images of the Red Planet as it aims to beat the US in the space race

1st country to ‘Master Mars’ – China releases stunning images of the Red Planet as it aims to beat the US in the space race


China’s first interplanetary exploration mission, the Mars probe Tianwen-1, was successfully launched on July 23, 2020. It achieved an extraordinary feat by orbiting, landing and traveling across the Red Planet. Two years later, the Tianwen-1 probe ended.

On June 29, the Chinese probe Tianwen-1 captured the last images of Mars. The country’s China National Space Administration (CNSA) said the mission had achieved all of its stated goals, CGTN reported.

The probe obtained data, including medium-resolution images covering the entire Red Planet, and carried out exploration missions with various science payloads.

The photographs, which the space agency shared on social media, show the rugged terrain of the Martian landscape, including the south pole ice cap, shield volcanoes, impact craters, and the cliffs and ridges of the canyons of Valles Marineris, one of the enormous canyons of the solar system, reported CNN.

China’s Tianwen 1 orbiter completes science mission to Mars (via Twitter)

The images were collected by the probe’s orbiter, which performed 1,344 orbits around Mars and took pictures of the planet in all directions as the rover surveyed the surface, according to CNSA.

It would also have acquired images of the Martian south pole, where almost all of Mars’ water is thought to be blocked. Finding water on the Red Planet would be the first step towards the potential for life on the surface of Mars.

Thirteen scientific payload elements installed aboard the Tianwen-1 Mars mission have collected 1,040 gigabytes of original scientific data after two years of operation and planetary exploration.

The ground team processed the data to create standard science products, which were then delivered monthly to science research teams for further analysis and investigation. Relevant scientific achievements have been published in well-known academic journals both at home and abroad.

According to the CNSA, the scientific data will be available to researchers around the world, including the American NASA and the European ESA, when the time is right. They would be welcome to apply for data research to advance humanity’s exploration of the universe.

China's Tianwen-1 probe nears completion and delivers spectacular images of entire Red Planet
China’s Tianwen-1 probe nears completion and delivers spectacular images of entire Red Planet

China’s exploration and realization of Mars

Tianwen-1, China’s first mission to Mars, was launched in July 2020 and had an orbiter, a lander and a rover with 13 research equipment on board. It successfully landed on the Martian plain Utopia Planitia in May 2021. The Chinese government declared Tianwen-1 a success in late 2021.

Tianwen 1 celebrated its first anniversary on the Red Planet in February 2022. The Tianwen 1 spacecraft entered orbit around Mars on February 10, 2021. The National Space Administration of China released spectacular images of the event shortly after, showing the orbiter passing behind Mars while firing engines to slow down and enter orbit.

Over the past 706 days, the orbiter has moved around Mars 1,344 times, collecting medium-resolution visual data of the entire planet’s surface. The six-wheeled rover collected data on the geological composition, atmosphere, environment and soil of Mars.

The rover, named Zhurong after the god of fire in Chinese mythology, traveled more than two kilometers on Mars before hibernating on May 18 due to harsh winter conditions. Work is expected to continue when spring arrives in December, according to CGTN.

Landing on Mars is one of the most difficult tasks in spaceflight. Since Mars has a different atmosphere than the Moon, landers must be shielded from the heat produced during descent. Therefore, Retrorockets are needed because the air is too thin for a parachute to slow down a lander on its own.

1st country to study Martian samples?

It is also pertinent to mention that China is in competition with the other world powers in space, with the rivalry intensifying with each planned mission. It was recently revealed that China is poised to become the first country in the world to bring rocks from Mars back to Earth, as reported by EurAsian Times.

A senior space official in China has confirmed that Beijing plans to bring rocks from Mars by 2031, making it the first country to send Mars samples to Earth.

China’s schedule is two years ahead of the US-European Mars mission to return samples to Earth. The latter announced a postponement in March to undertake a mission more sophisticated than that of China.

Exploration of Mars has become a cornerstone of the US-China space race which is rapidly advancing alongside the geopolitical rivalry unraveling on the ground. Only the United States and the former Soviet Union had successfully landed a spacecraft on Mars before China’s success with Tianwen-1.

Additionally, China was the first country to attempt to send both an orbiter and a rover on its first local mission to Mars with Tianwen-1. For its part, NASA had launched several orbiters to Mars before attempting the slightest landing attempt.

However, besides competition, there has also been a fair amount of cooperation between CNSA and other states and space agencies. As part of a Sino-European scientific collaboration, Zhurong also tested data transmission via ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft.

In addition, CNSA has also collaborated with observatories in many countries, including those in Russia, Germany, Italy, Australia, and South Africa, to conduct observational studies and scientific surveys. in various fields, including the solar wind surrounding the solar array, using the Tianwen-1 Orbiter and Mars Express.

CNSA said such collaboration has produced fruitful results, advanced human knowledge, and positively impacted efforts to create a scientific community with a shared future for all.

With a series of missions planned for the red planet before the end of this decade, there could be room for more collaboration in addition to the apparent competition.