Beyond Infinity: One year on Tianwen-1’s triumphant landing on Mars

Beyond Infinity: One year on Tianwen-1’s triumphant landing on Mars

As of May 15, 2022, China’s first Mars mission, Tianwen-1, has been smoothly going on for a whole year. /CGTN Graphic designed by Yin Yating

As of May 15, 2022, China’s first Mars mission, Tianwen-1, has been smoothly going on for a whole year. /CGTN Graphic designed by Yin Yating

May 15, 2022 marks the first anniversary of the remarkable touch-down by China’s Tianwen-1 on Mars in the southern part of Utopia Planitia, a vast plain on the northern hemisphere of the red planet, symbolizing the country’s first probe landing on a planet other than the Earth.

The name Tianwen, which literally means “ask the sky,” comes from Chinese ancient poet Qu Yuan’s masterpiece which reflects Chinese persistence in seeking truth and exploring the universe.

So far, Tianwen-1 has been exploring the surface of Mars for 356 Martian days and covered a total distance of 1,921 meters on the red planet. It has sent some of 940 gigabytes of precious scientific data back to the Earth, assisting the scientists in further revealing the mysteriously remote planet.

What is the Tianwen-1 Mars mission?

The Tianwen-1 Mars mission was approved in January 2016 by the China National Space Administration (CNSA), and the probe launched on July 23, 2020, carrying out deep-space maneuvers and expeditions on the red planet afterwards.

On February 10, 2020, Tianwen-1 successfully entered the orbit of Mars after a crucial braking system was activated to decelerate the spacecraft’s speed, enabling it to be captured by Mars’ gravity and become China’s first Mars satellite.

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CGTN’s immersive graphic info of Tianwen-1 Mars mission

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Watch: CNSA releases images of Tianwen-1 spacecraft landing process

The primary mission of Tianwen-1 is to detect signs of life on Mars, be it in the present or the distant past.

In addition, the probe will also help examine the atmosphere, landscape, geological and magnetic characteristics on Mars to provide clues to the origin and evolution of Mars and the solar system. Based on all these, scientists might reveal if Mars could become a second home for humans.

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Watch: Technologies China uses on its Mars probe Tianwen-1’s rover

China’s Mars rover finds evidence of water on Mars

Chinese scientists have found new evidence that there was water on Mars in the past and there are hydrated minerals on Mars, which can be potentially exploited during future crewed Mars missions.

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The findings from the data contribute to a growing body of telltale signs that suggests liquid water may have persisted much longer on Mars than previously thought, indicating that there are currently considerable stores of water in the form of hydrated minerals and possibly ground ice in this site.

The study published in the journal Science Advances on May 11 revealed that a large impact basin on Mars contained liquid water during the Amazonian epoch, the planet’s most recent geologic epoch.

Screenshot of study published on Science Advances.

Screenshot of study published on Science Advances.

Moreover, another Chinese study published in March in the journal Nature Geoscience also revealed that the site where Zhurong landed might have experienced wind and possibly water erosion.

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Tech Breakdown: Five facts about China’s first Mars mission Tianwen-1

(CGTN’s video editors Wu Chutian, Wang Zengzheng and Ge Kai also contributed to this story.)

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