(CNN) After traveling through space for seven months, China's Tianwen-1 probe has reached Mars and successfully entered the planet's orbit on Wednesday -- bringing it one step closer to landing on the surface.
The CNSA said it will gather important information about Mars' geological structure, atmosphere, environment and soil, and search for any signs of water. The spacecraft is expected to land on the planet's surface in May or June.
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United Arab Emirates Hope Mars probe enters orbit
The United Arab Emirates is now only the fifth country -- and the first Arab country -- to successfully arrive at Mars. The Al Amal (Hope) probe made history Tuesday by entering orbit around the red planet.
Mars Perserverence Rover due to land Feb 18, 2021
Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover
The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars exploration, including key questions about the potential for life on Mars. Perseverance takes the next step by not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also searching for signs of past microbial life itself. The rover introduces a drill that can collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a "cache" on the surface of Mars. A future mission could potentially return these samples to Earth. That would help scientists study the samples in laboratories with special room-sized equipment that would be too large to take to Mars. The mission also provides opportunities to gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars. These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources (such as subsurface water), improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.
Tricky Terrain: Helping to Assure a Safe Rover Landing
After a nearly seven-month journey to Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover is slated to land at the Red Planet’s Jezero Crater Feb. 18, 2021, a rugged expanse chosen for its scientific research and sample collection possibilities.
But the very features that make the site fascinating to scientists also make it a relatively dangerous place to land – a challenge that has motivated rigorous testing here on Earth for the lander vision system (LVS) that the rover will count on to safely touch down.
“Jezero is 28 miles wide, but within that expanse there are a lot of potential hazards the rover could encounter: hills, rock fields, dunes, the walls of the crater itself, to name just a few,” said Andrew Johnson, principal robotics systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “So, if you land on one of those hazards, it could be catastrophic to the whole mission.”