China has said the Tianwen-1 spacecraft has entered a temporary parking orbit around Mars in anticipation of the rover’s landing on the Red Planet in the coming months. Reported by the Associated Press.
The China National Space Administration said the Tianwen-1 spacecraft performed a maneuver to correct its orbit early Wednesday morning Beijing time. It will remain in new orbit for approximately the next three months before attempting to land. During this time, it will be mapping the surface of Mars and using cameras and other sensors to collect additional data, especially about the intended landing site.
The message came after the American Perseverance rover landed last Thursday near the ancient river delta in Jezero Crater to look for signs of microscopic life.
The successful landing application for Tianwen-1 will make China the second country after the United States to place a spacecraft on Mars. The Chinese solar-powered vehicle will collect groundwater data and also seek evidence that microscopic life once existed on the planet.
The Tianwen spacecraft is named after an ancient poem, the name translates as “The Search for Heavenly Truth.”
Landing a spacecraft on Mars is notoriously challenging. About a dozen orbiters missed their target. In 2011, the Chinese orbiter on Mars, which was part of the Russian mission, never left the near-earth orbit.