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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

UAE’s Mars team wish China luck ahead of Tianwen-1 orbit entry

US space agency Nasa’s Perseverance rover will arrive on Mars on February 18

The UAE’s Mars mission team leader wished China luck on Wednesday, hours before their Tianwen-1 spacecraft was scheduled to attempt its own orbit insertion on the Red Planet.

Tianwen-1 was approaching Mars less than 24 hours after UAE made history by becoming the fifth nation to reach the planet with its probe, named Hope.

Omran Al Sharaf, mission director, said they hoped China’s mission would be successful, as it would also produce valuable data.

“The more missions that reach Mars, the better,” he told The National.

“We are paying attention to whether it's going to be successful, and we hope that it is. It will add more value to the global effort of data generation towards better understanding Mars.”

This is China’s second attempt at reaching Mars. In 2011, it lost its Yinghou-1 spacecraft after the Russian rocket carrying it failed mid-flight.

Tianwen-1 includes an orbiter and a lander. It will study soil and rock composition, and the planet's atmosphere, while searching for signs of buried water ice.

The spacecraft sent a 'selfie' of itself during its seven-month journey and has already beamed back a grayscale image of Mars.

This image made available by the China National Space Administration on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020 shows the Tianwen-1 probe en route to Mars. China's duo _ called Tianwen-1, or “Quest for Heavenly Truth” _ will remain paired in orbit until May, when the rover separates to descend to the dusty, ruddy surface. If all goes well, it will be the second country to land successfully on the red planet. (CNSA via AP)
The Tianwen-1 probe en route to Mars, on December 16, 2020. Courtesy: China National Space Administration

US space agency Nasa’s Perseverance rover will arrive on Mars on February 18. At a cost of $2.7 billion, Perseverance is one of the most expensive Mars missions to date.

The rover will collect rock core and soil samples from an area on the planet that is thought to have previously been habitable.

It is the world’s first return mission to Mars with collected samples expected to be sent to Earth by 2031 through a joint Nasa and European Space Agency project.

The nuclear-powered rover will spend two Earth years exploring the 45 kilometre-wide Jezero crater, which contained a lake and river delta billions of years ago.

The rover also has a mini ‘helicopter’ on board, that will be deployed on landing. This will scan nearby areas that can be explored.

All three missions were launched last summer to take advantage of a narrow launch window, when Mars and Earth were at their closest.

UAE celebrates arrival of Hope probe to Mars

Updated: February 10, 2021 01:35 PM

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