By Sunday morning, China's Tianwen 1 Mars probe has already traveled more than 400 million kilometers and is expected to enter orbit around Mars next month, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) reported.
As of 06:00 Sunday morning (Beijing time), the Tianwen 1 Mars probe has already spent 163 days in space. It was approximately 130 million kilometers from Earth and 8.3 million kilometers from Mars.
According to CNSA, the probe is functioning stably and should slow down before entering Mars orbit in more than a month and preparing for landing on the Red Planet.
Since its launch on July 23, 2020, Tianwen 1 has taken a photograph of both the Earth and the Moon. He also took a selfie. During the flight, it performed three orbit corrections, a deep-space maneuver, and a self-test of payloads.
The Tianwen-1 probe weighing about five tons consists of an orbiter, a lander and a rover. It is called upon to carry out an orbital flight, landing on the surface of Mars and moving along it within one mission.
After entering Mars orbit, the spacecraft will spend two to three months exploring potential landing sites using a high-resolution camera to prepare for landing in May.
The most difficult part of the mission will be a soft landing - an autonomous process of operation of the probe, which lasts from seven to eight minutes. The probe will use its aerodynamic shape, parachute and retro rocket to brake and lower its legs for landing.
After landing, the rover will start its work, in particular for scientific research with an expected service life of at least 90 Martian days /about three months on Earth /, and an orbiter with a design life of one Martian year /about 687 days on Earth /will relay messages to the rover during its own scientific sounding.
Tianwen means "Questions to Heaven." It got its name from the poem of the same name written by Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), one of the greatest poets of ancient China. It symbolizes the desire of the Chinese nation to seek truth and explore nature and the universe.