Mars (FILE) Photograph:( Zee News Network )
The year 2021 is going to be a busy year for space explorers. Some exciting missions are expected to arrive at their destination
In a month from now, three spacecraft will pull into the vicinity of Mars: the UAE's hope orbiter, NASA's perseverance rover and China's Tianwen-1 mission. They are all headed to Mars to find signs of life.
The year 2021 is going to be a busy year for space explorers. Some exciting missions are expected to arrive at their destination. Three of them shall reach by next month.
Their destination is the same and so is their motive. They are all headed to Mars to find signs of life. The first to arrive will be the UAE's Hope Orbiter — the first-ever Arab mission to Mars.
This unmanned mission blasted off from Tanegashima, Japan on July 20, 2020. It's part of celebrations to mark the UAE's 50th anniversary this year and is expected to pull into the vicinity of Mars by the February 09. Once there, the mission will study the martian atmosphere. It is equipped with an infrared spectrometer to measure the planet's lower atmosphere, a high-resolution imager to provide information about the ozone and an ultraviolet spectrometer to measure oxygen and hydrogen levels.
The next to arrive will be the first Chinese mission to Mars on February 10. It is a long march five rocket that took off from the tropical island of Hainan last year and is called Tianwen or 'questions to heaven'. This mission has three aims: to place a probe in the orbit around Mars, land on the surface and then release a robotic rover to conduct analyses.
"The probe is currently flying at a speed of about 23 kilometres per second, which is basically two million kilometres per day. Its relative speed to the earth now is about 21 kilometres per second, that is, 1.8 million kilometres per day," Li Zhencai, Deputy Commander, Tianwen-1 mars probe project, China Academy of Space Technology said.
Following Tianwen-1 will be NASA's perseverance rover which launched from Cape Canaveral in July 2020. The mission aims to land a rover vehicle on the surface of Mars. Once it has arrived by February 18, the rover will explore the site known as Jezero Crater — formally a lake — in search of signs of ancient life.
Around 40 rocks and oil samples will be collected and placed in tubes ready to be brought back to earth by another mission.