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China Exploration Focus: Tianwen 1 probe mission marks the first year on Mars



China Exploration Focus Tianwen 1 probe mission marks the first year on Mars

It has been a year since China’s Tianwen 1 probe arrived at Mars. The mission has denoted a significant step in the country’s interplanetary exploration as well as has made various achievements during that time.

The Tianwen 1 probe comprises an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. On May 15, 2021, it landed at its pre-selected landing region in Utopia Planitia, a huge Martian plain, marking the first time that China first has landed a probe on the planet.

After a week on May 22, 2021, the Mars rover Zhurong, which looks like a butterfly, drove down from its landing platform to the Martian surface. On June 11, the China National Space Administration released the first photos taken by Zhurong, meaning a total success in the country’s first Mars exploration mission.


Since landing, Zhurong has kept moving toward the south and sent information back to Earth. It has finished investigations of the Martian surface, went through numerous complex terrains, and identified Martian rocks, sand dunes, and effect craters, acquiring a lot of information using its onboard scientific equipment.

By Aug 15, 2021, Zhurong had dealt with the planet’s surface for 90 Martian days, or around 92 days on Earth, achieving all exploration and detection tasks as planned. It was looking great and proceeded with service notwithstanding reaching its planned working target of 90 days.

From mid-September to late October last year, the Mars orbiter and Zhurong suspended their explorations and depended on their own autonomous systems to survive their first solar outage, during which time solar electromagnetic radiation expanded and disrupted communication between the probe and Earth.

In November 2021, Zhurong and the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft played out an in-orbit relay communication test.

In May this year, using the information assembled by Zhurong on the landing site, Chinese researchers found new proof recommending the presence of liquid water action and hydrated minerals on the red planet.

By May 5, 2022, the Tianwen 1 orbiter had been working for 651 days at a distance of 240 million kilometers from Earth. Zhurong had been laboring for 347 Martian days and voyaged 1,921 meters. The orbiter and rover, working normally, had gotten around 940 gigabytes of data.


The Tianwen 1 mission is just the start of China’s planetary exploration, and many new endeavors are in the pipeline.

As indicated by a white paper named “China’s Space Program: A 2021 Perspective,” the country will proceed with its lunar exploration with the future Chang’e 6, Chang’e 7, and Chang’e 8 missions. It will finish the development of an international lunar research station along with different countries, global organizations, and partners.

Future plans likewise incorporate launching an asteroid probe, recovering samples from close Earth asteroids, and recovering samples from Mars.

The Tianwen 2 probe has entered the preliminary prototype development stage.

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