China’s Mars Tianwen-1 Launch Will Answer a ‘Heavenly Question’

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Only the Soviet Union and the United States have managed to reach in a single piece on Mars. The Soviet lander, the primary, touched down in 1971 however stopped speaking nearly instantly afterward. While numerous related missions by different nations have failed, the United States has managed 5 profitable floor landings.

“The Chinese are acutely aware that a lot of people think they are just repeating what others have done in the past,” mentioned Joan S. Johnson-Freese, a professor of nationwide safety affairs on the United States Naval War College.

“So they are very careful to do things that No. 1, get them in the record books, like landing and the far side of the moon and, No. 2, allow them to do science that others countries are going to be interested in,” he mentioned.

NASA’s expertise permits it higher ambitions. The Perseverance rover, as an example, will carry a helicopter on board, making an attempt for the primary time to fly within the exceedingly skinny Martian ambiance. It may even collect samples for eventual return to Earth.

“The United States is all about building a Mercedes,” Dr. Johnson-Freese mentioned. By distinction, she added, the Chinese program, “is all about just running a Ford. They don’t have a lot of bells and whistles.”

Still, for China, if all goes in keeping with plan, and Tianwen-1 arrives on Mars in February, a stream of photographs from the planet will at the very least compete with these coming from Perseverance, which is scheduled to land in February. That will probably be a publicity coup in itself. Even if China remains to be enjoying catch-up, it’s attempting what no different nation has been capable of do besides the United States, Dr. Goswami mentioned.

“China realizes that in the world of today and the world of tomorrow, space is going to play a critical role in how humanity organizes itself,” she mentioned, “and so they are looking at all of their missions from that perspective.”

Claire Fu in Beijing contributed analysis.

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