After a nearly seven-month voyage from Earth, China's Tianwen-1 probe successfully entered the orbit around Mars Wednesday, Feb. 10, while a day before, the United Arab Emirates' Mars Hope mission reached the Red Planet's orbit, with NASA's Perseverance rover all set to land in Jezero Crater on February 18, making it a rare rendezvous for three missions making simultaneous visit to the planet.
The race for Mars has intensified with the US, Russia, Europe, India, China and UAE becoming the rare space club of six on Mars, so far. The success of UAE in its first inter-planetary space mission has made a remarkable beginning for the oil-driven country.
Aptly named HOPE, UAE became the first Arab nation to achieve an interplanetary mission, with no record of a single space mission seven years ago into a nation that is hoping to transform the country's oil economy into a knowledge economy.
Though the mission was essentially based on tapping the expertise of US space engineers, the mission, with more than 80% women scientists, personifies the aspiring hope to transform the country's outlook, said Sarah Al Amiri, the lead for the project and the country's minister for advanced sciences. "How we get there is even more important," she insists.
China's Tianwen-1 probe
China, which had failed in its earlier Mars mission, was able to even out the challenge to go to Mars with the successful entry of its Mars orbiter, this month, along with the payloads which contain a lander and a rover to survey the surface of the Red Planet.
"Tianwen-1 entered the orbit around Mars on Wednesday exactly as it was designed," said Zhang Rongqiao, Chief Designer of China's first Mars exploration mission. "We are looking forward to a successful landing on Mars." Landing on Mars is challenging as the success rate was 40% so far.
In fact, it marks a three-in-one Mars exploration program that was designed by Chinese space experts to complete orbiting, landing and roving in one mission. Tianwen-1, launched on July 23, 2020, travelled for 202 days to enter the orbit of Mars now. It will survey potential landing sites in preparation to land its rover in May or June, 2021.
NASA's Perseverence to land on Feb 18
Meanwhile, NASA's Perseverence is landing on February 18, to make the rendezvous with the Red Planet unique this month. On landing day, the livestream of the event will be available here.
The next mission by European Space Agency will launch the ExoMars rover during the launch window of August and October 2022, while NASA is exploring a sample collection mission in 2027, followed by a manned mission in the 2030s. Destination Mars is certain to be a viable mission for humans soon.