China’s First Mars Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Red Planet

First released picture of Mars from China’s Tianwen-1 spacecraft. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

BEIJING (China National Space Administration PR) — At 19:52 on February 10, 2021, China’s first Mars exploration mission, Tianwen-1, carried out near-fire capture braking. The 3000N orbital control engine of the orbiter ignited for about 15 minutes, and the probe successfully entered the near-fire altitude.

A large elliptical orbit of 400 kilometers, with a period of about 10 Earth days and an inclination of about 10º, has become my country’s first man-made Mars satellite, achieving the goal of “orbiting, landing, and patrolling.” Zhang Kejian, director of the National Space Administration and commander-in-chief of the first Mars exploration mission, announced the success of orbiting Mars.

Zhang Kejian said that in the early hours of this morning, the UAE “Hope” has successfully entered the orbit of the ring fire. I would like to congratulate the UAE colleagues and wish the U.S. “Perseverance” a successful landing on Mars in the coming days! Exploring the vast universe is the common dream of all mankind. We will cooperate sincerely and go hand in hand with countries all over the world to make mankind’s exploration of space go further. On the occasion of the New Year holiday, on behalf of the first Mars exploration mission engineering headquarters, I would like to extend Chinese New Year blessings to all the participants in the research! I hope that everyone will keep in mind General Secretary Xi Jinping’s “starting a new journey of interstellar exploration one step at a time”, and make persistent efforts, meticulous organization, and precise implementation to ensure the complete success of the “Tianwen No. 1” project mission of “circumnavigation, patrol”.

After the first Mars exploration mission entered the Mars capture phase from the ground fire transfer phase, the medium-resolution camera, high-resolution camera, magnetometer, mineral spectrum analyzer, ion and neutral particles and energy particles carried by the Tianwen-1 orbiter The payloads such as sounding instruments will continue to work to carry out multi-dimensional exploration of Mars.

Since its successful launch on July 23, 2020, the Tianwen-1 probe has accumulated 202 days of flight, completed 1 deep-space maneuver and 4 midway corrections, and had a flight mileage of approximately 475 million kilometers upon reaching Mars, and a distance of approximately 1.92 from Earth. 100 million kilometers, the one-way delay of device-to-ground communication is about 10.7 minutes, and each system is in good condition. Subsequent Tianwen-1 will undergo several orbital adjustments, enter the Mars mooring orbit, and carry out pre-selected landing zone exploration. It is planned to choose an opportunity to land on Mars from May to June 2021 and carry out inspections.