China today launched an unmanned probe to Mars on its first independent mission to visit another planet, seeking global leadership in space and demonstrating its technological prowess and ambition.
At 12:41 PM (0441 GMT), China’s largest launch vehicle, the Long March 5 Y-4, was fired from the Wenchang Space Launch Center probe in the southern island province of Hainan.
The ambitious move is China’s attempt to join the United States on a successful mission.
This comes as a United Arab Emirates orbiter “the Emirates Mars Mission” departed on July 19, adding to the list of countries sending spacecraft to the red planet.
Next week, the US would launch Mars Rover, Perseverance from Florida.
NASA’s perseverance is currently slated to launch sometime between July 30 and August 15.
He will land on the Red Planet in Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. NASA’s top scientists say the crater was a potential oasis in its distant past and “has great potential for finding signs of microbial life in the past.”
The goal of the Tianwen-1 launch from China is to search for underground water to search for evidence of life.
China has outlined two landing areas, with a candidate landing site in Utopia Planitia.
China’s largest newspaper, the People’s Daily China, tweeted: “China launched its first Mars probe on Thursday via a Long March-5 Y4 rocket from Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan, China.”
The site selection was driven by a range of factors, including technical limitations of the flight system and the challenges of entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet and the mission’s scientific goals.
The Tianwen-1 spacecraft is expected to reach Mars around February 2021, but the rover’s landing attempt may not be immediate.
There are suggestions that the mission’s landing segment will be performed months later, in April. This would allow the mapping and observation of the landing site.
The missions kick off a hugely important month for the world’s fascination with the Red Planet and its exploration – and one of them could even uncover the secrets that prove that there is or has been life on Mars.