The CNSA (Chinese National Space Agency) has published a picture of their Tianwen-1 spacecraft on the occasion of the national holiday and the mid-autumn festival. The spaceship is on its way to Mars, and if the landing is successful, China will only be the third nation to successfully land a spaceship on the planet.
The picture shows Tianwen-1 (translation: "heavenly questions") with its solar panels, which are used against the deep darkness of space. It's about 15 million km away now and China says it's working fine.
A blog associated with the mission praised the Tianwen-1 mission with a language that, to Western ears, may sound like propaganda from 60 years ago.
“The golden breeze is cool, the sky is clear and the moon is full. On the occasion of the national holiday and the mid-autumn festival, the National Space Administration published the flight images of the Tianwen-1 probe of the first Mars exploration mission in my country. The five-star red flag on the map is dazzling and shows a brilliant Chinese red. ”You also write,“ The silver landing patrol device and golden orbiter in the vast universe are bright, and Tianwen No. 1 uses this to keep the motherland safe to report and send birthday wishes. "
China's China, and so the government talks to the people. In any case, Tianwen-1 and China's space program as a whole is a great achievement for the country. There's nothing wrong with a little pride.
The picture shows the two main sections of the spacecraft. The silver part is the orbiter and the gold part is the lander. The overall mission goal is to look for evidence of past and present life and to study the Martian environment.
The lander will use a parachute and retro sockets to make its landing in the Utopia Planitia region. It will be solar powered and will analyze soil chemistry as well as look for biomolecules and biosignatures.
The selfies were taken by a small, wide-angle camera released from the spaceship. The camera had no other purpose and is now space debris.
The orbiter's mission is said to last 90 days and the orbiter is said to last two years.
Landing on Mars is a daunting task, however. NASA is good at it, but other nations and agencies are having problems. The Soviet Union is the only other country that does, and that was decades ago. In 1971 and 1972 they managed to land spaceships there.
If the mission is successful, it can improve understanding of Mars. The Tianwen-1 lander has a number of six instruments, including a ground penetrating radar that can reach depths of 100 meters below the Martian surface. And the orbiter has seven instruments.
However, Tianwen-1 does not have Mars to itself. Along with the other orbiters and landers already there, Tianwen-1 is one of three spaceships that will reach Mars at around the same time. The others are NASA's Perseverance Rover and the United Arab Emirates' Orbiter Hope.
China has come a long way to modernize and set its own course. The space program is both a symbol and a result of this modernization and is also scientifically relevant.
"We will embrace the new era, take on new missions and embark on a new journey," the blog post says. “Under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee, centered on Secretary General Xi Jinping, we will make great strides on the path to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and continue to make Chinese contributions to the peaceful development of mankind. ”
Many of us who saw MSL Curiosity successfully land on Mars all those summers ago felt cold when it became known that the lander was safe. Chinese people are likely to feel the same way if Tianwen-1 is successful. The rest of us could too.
Good luck, Tianwen-1.