In July 2020, there have been three Mars missions whose objective is to observe Mars: 1) Perseverance, from NASA; 2) Tianwen-1 from China; 3) The Emirates Mars Mission from UAE … and after 7 months, in February 2021 they will finally reach the Red Planet.
Going from Earth to Mars is not a trip that takes two hours. It is actually a seven-month journey and in July 2020 three missions left this planet that aims to reach Mars: one sent by NASA, another by the Chinese space agency, and the third sponsored by the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Why all three Mars Mission was in the same month?
Actually, it is not a coincidence that the three missions left the Earth in the same month and that, therefore, they will arrive at their destination in the same month. Every little more than two years, the orbits of Mars and Earth align in a way that allows a spacecraft to take advantage of what is known as the Hohmann transfer orbit. Space agencies use this transfer to save fuel by taking advantage of the implicit motion of the two planets. For this reason, the three missions were launched in the same.
Three Mars Missions:
- Hope: The Emirates Mars Mission
Hope was launched by the UAE on July 19, 2020, from the Tanegashima Space Center in Japan
2. Tianwen-1: Chinese Mars Mission
Tianwen-1 departed on July 22, 2020, from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island in the South China Sea.
3. Perseverance: NASA Mars Mission
Perseverance took off from the Florida coast on July 30, 2020.
Although the three missions orbit around Mars, the one that takes the entire spotlight this month will be NASA’s Perseverance rover (or “Percy,” as they are fondly called) that will land on the surface of the neighboring planet, on February 18. The Perseverance rover arrives on Mars nine years after its older brother, the famous Curiosity Rover, which has left us many photographs of the Red Planet.
The probe that will arrive first around Mars, however, will be Hope, which will perform an orbital insertion maneuver on Mars next week, on February 9, and will remain orbiting the planet analyzing the Martian atmosphere.
For its part, a little less detail is known about the Chinese mission, but what the Tianwen-1 is trying to do is still very impressive. It will make its insertion maneuver into Martian orbit one day after Hope and then attempt to land in an unfriendly area of Mars. In theory, the Chinese probe will land on the Martian surface, also with a rover, next May.
In other words, in a few days, there will be three human ships flying around the Red Planet, and between now and May, two of those ships will land on Mars. Being able to land on Mars is somewhat difficult, so victory cannot be claimed in any way yet.
On the other hand, a couple of days ago SpaceX conducted an altitude test of its SN9, the super-heavy rocket with which it plans to take a crew to the Red Planet. Upon landing back, the rocket whose ultimate goal is to make it reusable exploded, a result that, although not good, was something that Elon Musk’s company somehow anticipated. So Mars, more than ever, seems closer to us. Something that a few years ago was just unattainable science fiction.
For now, to warm up your engines, you can listen to the sounds of space that Perseverance has recorded on the long way to Mars here on NASA’s page. And do not forget to be aware, the transmission of the arrival of Perseverance to Mars can be seen live on NASA TV. And take a look at this video so you know what will happen on February 18 on Mars.