The China National Space Administration confirmed that the Chinese mission to Mars, Tianwen-1 (or "Questions to Heaven"), successfully entered Mars orbit on Wednesday morning.
The Chinese interplanetary mission Tianwen-1 was launched on July 23, 2020, from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Hainan Island atop the Long March 5 carrier rocket, one of the most powerful Chinese rockets.
The Tianwen-1 mission consists of a Martian orbiter, lander, and rover. The probe will spend two months on Mars orbit, after which it will land a rover on the surface of the Red Planet to study the geology of the planet, its magnetic and gravitational fields, and examine soil characteristics to find out what’s beneath its surface. The rover was scheduled to land on the surface of the Red Planet in April, but this date was changed to May or June.
The orbiter will map Mars from above, and the lander and rover will study the planet’s surface and the signs of underground water.
The goal of the mission is to study the underground conditions of the planet and try to find signs of life there. The Tianwen-1 probe has a camera and tools to help it analyze local rocks and find ice.
This is not the first time China has attempted to explore Mars. In 2011, together with Russia, China launched the Yinhe–1 (Galaxy-1) technology verification satellite, but it failed and fell into the Pacific Ocean.
Earlier, the United Arab Emirates successfully launched their probe Al Amal ("Hope") into the orbit of Mars. The launch of the Emirati mission to Mars took place shortly before the Chinese one, so Tianwen-1 reached the orbit of the Red Planet a day after the United Arab Emirates accomplished the same feat.
Tianwen-1 is one of three missions arriving at Mars this February. The UAE's Hope probe reached the orbit on Tuesday. NASA will attempt to put another of its big rovers on the surface of Mars next week.
Six countries of the world have already successfully launched their vehicles into the orbit of the Red Planet. Previously, the USA, India, USSR, as well as Russia and the EU (jointly) succeeded in doing this.