China again opted for discretion and subsequently only announced the successful orbital insertion of the Tianwen-1 probe around Mars. It happened on Wednesday (10) according to a script independently set by enthusiasts and made the country the sixth unit to successfully enter the orbit of the red planet (after the US, Russia, the European Space Agency, India and the United Arab Emirates). United).
Launched on July 23, the spacecraft traveled in interplanetary space for seven months and fired its engines at 8:52 a.m. (Brazilian time) to perform the braking maneuver that would allow its gravity capture on Mars. The radio signals from the spacecraft, which propagated from there at the speed of light, arrived on earth almost 11 minutes later and were independently recorded by the German group Amsat-DL, which monitors satellites with a 20-meter observatory antenna from Bechum.
The fuel burned for about 15 minutes, four of which had received no signal from Earth as Mars hid the probe as it orbited the planet. The signal was restored at 9:48 a.m. as planned. The orbiter now circulates around the red planet and reaches a minimum distance of 400 km from the surface. New maneuvers will refine the orbit and the spaceship will begin mapping Mars, with particular attention to the Utopia Planitia region.
The landing module should now depart from there coupled to Tianwen-1, but not until May. There’s a rover inside. If the relegation phase is successful, China could just be the second country to land on Mars. So far, only American missions on Martian soil have been successful.
Incidentally, it is NASA, the US space agency, that is completing the current season of arrival on Mars. Next Thursday (18), the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity mini helicopter, the pair of the Mars 2020 mission, will descend to the surface of the red planet. And the first to arrive was the Al Amal spacecraft (“Hope” in Arabic)), the first interplanetary mission in the United Arab Emirates, which made its orbital insertion this Tuesday (9).
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