It is assumed that the automatic station “Tianwen” will enter the orbit of the red planet and deliver a Rover to its surface.
An uncrewed spacecraft on Thursday set off on a journey to Mars lasting several months, marking the beginning of one of China’s most ambitious space expeditions to date.
The automatic interplanetary station “Tianwen-1” was launched from the Wenchang cosmodrome on Hainan Island. The Changzheng-5 launch vehicle took off to the cheers of hundreds of people who had gathered on beaches along the coast to witness the event.
Tianwen-1 (the name translates from Chinese as “Questions to the sky”) is expected to approach the red planet in February.
When the spacecraft reaches Martian orbit, a probe will detach from it and land in the area of the Martian Utopia plain.
The probe will release a small solar-powered rover that will explore the planet’s surface for at least three months.
A successful landing will make China the second country to deliver a spacecraft to the Martian surface. For comparison, the US has already landed eight probes since 1976.