Earth’s not enough, China too flies toward Mars
It seems the earth is not enough to contain the rivalry between the US and China.
China launched a rover to Mars, a journey coinciding with a similar US mission as the powers take their rivalry into deep space.
The two countries are taking advantage of a period when Earth and Mars are favourably aligned for a short journey, with the US spacecraft due to lift off on July 30.
It is a crowded field. The United Arab Emirates too had launched a probe that will orbit Mars once it reaches the Red Planet.
The Chinese mission is named Tianwen-1 (“Questions to Heaven”) in a nod to a classical poem that has verses about the cosmos. It launched on a Long March 5 — China’s biggest space rocket — from the southern island of Hainan.
Tianwen-1 is expected to arrive in February 2021 after a seven-month, 55-million-kilometre (34-million-mile) voyage. The mission includes a Mars orbiter, a lander and a rover that will study the planet’s soil.
The interplanetary mission will also mark China’s establishment of a complete deep-space exploration project system, covering design, production, flight mission and scientific research.
Mars, one of Earth's closest neighbor planets in the solar system, has the most similar environment to Earth's. Human beings have made 44 Mars mission attempts, and only 24 of them succeeded. The minimum distance between Mars and Earth is about 55 million kilometers, and the two planets only come that close every 26 months.