Almost front and rear legs, the United Arab Emirates “Hope” Mars probe was successfully launched in the early morning of July 20. Three days later, the tianwen-1 Mars probe from China successfully flew into the northeast coast of Hainan Island. And in a few days, the U.S. will probe Mars.
this summer, it’s a foregone conclusion that the probes will “pile up” to Mars. Although most of the previous Mars window period had human probes flying to Mars, the three countries happened to choose the same period from late July to early August this year, which still caused a lot of attention. Why is Mars so “hot” this year, and what are the characteristics of Mars exploration in different countries?
Geng Yan, director of the General Department of deep space exploration of the center for lunar exploration and space engineering of China National Space Administration, said in an interview with the reporter of China Youth Daily. China, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America will carry out exploration missions in Mars surface sampling, regional patrol exploration, thermal atmosphere measurement, etc., since 2020 is in the window period for the earth to launch a Mars probe The research on the origin and evolution of life and the exploration of new human home provide important support.
“although the United States, China and Argentina will all carry out Mars exploration missions in the summer of 2020, due to the differences in technical level, project progress and scientific research focus, there are certain differences in the implementation of exploration missions among countries.” Geng Yan said.
as early as August 6, 2012, shortly after the “curiosity” Mars rover successfully landed on Mars, NASA’s new generation of Mars rover project was officially established, which is “Mars 2020” – the US “perseverance” Mars rover exploration mission.
according to the Mars probe development experts of the eighth Institute of China Aerospace Science and technology group, the “perseverance” Mars rover planned to be launched by the United States in 2020 is an improvement on the previously successful “curiosity” Rover.
compared with curiosity, which focuses on analyzing the composition of Martian soil and rocks, perseverance focuses on finding traces of life. Experts from the eighth Academy of Sciences said that the rover is equipped with the latest robotic arm, as well as scientific instruments such as the Mars environmental dynamic analyzer and the Mars subsurface radar imaging experiment instrument. It can not only provide high-resolution 3D images of Mars, but also preserve rock and soil samples and bring them back to earth in the future.
there are also public opinions that, as the most advanced country in Mars exploration technology in the world, the US mission is also laying the foundation for the next manned landing. For example, this time, “perseverance” carried Mars oxygen in-situ resource utilization experiment instrument to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen; SpaceX, a private US sky exploration company, also plans to launch a “red dragon” Mars Lander to prepare for human migration to Mars in the future.
experts from the eighth Academy of Sciences told reporters that one of the highlights of the “perseverance” is that it is equipped with a “Mars helicopter”. This helicopter can greatly expand the detection range of “perseverance”, and the maximum flight distance is about 600 meters every day. This will be the first time in human history that a winged spacecraft will be sent to another planet. We should know that the first Mars Rover “sojourner” has only crawled about 100 meters in dozens of working days, and the working mileage of this “Mars helicopter” is several times that of it.
as for China’s first Mars exploration mission, Geng Yan said that the mission’s probe consists of a landing Rover and a orbiter. The purpose of this exploration is to achieve a three-step “round the tour”, that is, global observation of the entire Mars, successful landing on Mars, and Rover inspection survey.
“this is the first Mars exploration mission of other countries, which has never been realized. It is facing unprecedented technical challenges and is a huge technological leap forward.” Geng Yan said.
specifically, the tianwen-1 probe was successfully launched in Wenchang, Hainan Province on July 23. After about seven months’ flight, it finally arrived at Mars. After the probe arrives at Mars, the lander will choose an aircraft to separate and land on the surface of Mars to carry out exploration. The orbiter will circle around Mars and take photos of Mars to obtain the characteristics of topography, soil composition and groundwater ice.
Geng Yan said that as the highlight of China’s first autonomous Mars exploration, the Mars orbiter will not only overcome the key technical difficulties such as Mars braking capture and long-term autonomous management, but also realize ultra long-distance measurement and control communication between ground fire and ground fire. “These are very difficult!”
according to him, China’s Mars orbiter will carry seven scientific instruments, which are medium resolution cameras for acquiring global remote sensing images of Mars, high-resolution cameras for imaging terrestrial and high-scientific value regions, and subsurface radars for detecting subsurface structures and polar ice layers on the surface of Mars, and for detecting mineral species and contents on the surface of Mars Mineral spectrum analyzer for quantity and spatial distribution, magnetometer for detecting Mars space magnetic field environment, ion and neutral particle analyzer for measuring energy, flux and composition of solar wind and Mars space ions and neutral particles, and energy particle analyzer for obtaining energy spectrum flux and element composition data of energy particles in space environment of Mars.
“our scientific goal is to achieve scientific exploration of the surface morphology, soil characteristics, material composition, water ice, atmosphere, ionosphere and magnetic field of Mars, so as to establish a comprehensive and basic understanding of Mars.” Geng Yan said.
compared with China and the United States, the United Arab Emirates plan to launch the “Hope” Mars probe has no “fire down” plan. The probe uses the way of exploring Mars to study the atmosphere and environment of Mars.
according to the Mars probe development experts of the eighth Institute of China Aerospace Science and technology group, the “Hope” spacecraft will study the interaction between the lower and upper atmosphere of Mars with the help of the onboard instruments, and search for the relationship between today’s Martian weather and the ancient Martian climate.
it is worth mentioning that the United Arab Emirates has a relatively high “ambition” in deep space exploration. After the United Arab Emirates successfully launched its first astronaut into space last year, the United Arab Emirates also plans to invest $136 million to build a “Mars city” on earth that reproduces the Martian environment, so as to provide support for the study of Martian life. In addition, Mars city is part of the United Arab Emirates’ 2117 Mars strategy, which hopes to establish human settlements on Mars by 2117.
However, the current Mars mission of “Hope” is still deployed by the United Arab Emirates space agency, NASA, Japan Aerospace Research and development agency and other global space agencies, and its mission is relatively specific, aiming at Mars atmosphere research.
experts from the eighth Institute of research and development of Mars probe told reporters that “Hope” will carry out a four-year exploration mission around Mars, comprehensively explore the atmosphere of Mars, study the climate and low-altitude weather changes, carry out sand and dust storm forecast, and map the detailed topography and atmospheric changes of Mars. It is expected to become the “first real Mars meteorological satellite”.
according to Geng Yan’s analysis, in addition to China, the United States and Afghanistan, the European Union, Russia, India and other countries have not made clear their Mars exploration plans this year, but they also have certain technical basis or project support. In general, with the three major “fire exploration” projects successively carried out in 2020, the relevant countries will continue to increase their investment in deep space exploration projects represented by Mars, so as to occupy an advantage in this unknown field involving “extraterrestrial resources”.
for example, the European Union and Russia originally planned to carry out the “ExoMars 2020” mission this year. The probe is composed of the first European Mars Rover “Rosalind Franklin” and the Russian “Cossack dance” Mars surface platform. It is used to evaluate the geological landscape and micro composition of Mars, and try to excavate the life elements buried under the surface of Mars.
However, due to certain risks in the parachute landing system in Russia and flight software in Europe, the plan was finally postponed to 2022. In response, the official joint statement of the two countries said that the general deterioration of the epidemic situation in European countries affected the final stage of the development of ExoMars. Geng Yan said that in view of the fact that the two sides have started relevant cooperation since 2016 and their technology accumulation is relatively sufficient, they will have certain competitiveness in the field of deep space exploration in the future.
India is also worth mentioning. As early as 2013, India launched the first Mars probe “manjialian”, and successfully entered the orbit of Mars, sending pictures and data back to the earth, which in the view of many domestic aerospace experts “reflects India’s strength in the space field”.
according to the 2020 target released by ISRO, there are no Mars exploration related projects in India. According to some analysis, this situation is due to India’s successful Mars exploration before, and on the other hand, India has a solar exploration plan in its key tasks this year, which makes the starting point higher and the technology more difficult. Once successful, India’s international position will be greatly improved, so more resources will be inclined to solar exploration projects.
Geng Yan told reporters that regardless of the Mars exploration plan to be implemented in 2020, as the European Union, Russia, India and other regions or countries also have the technical ability to explore Mars, and some projects are under preparation, more countries may join the “circle of friends” of “fire exploration” for some time to come.