Science

Three missions to Mars take off this month; understand

The hunting season is open to the Martians! In this month of July, no less than three exploration missions, developed by three different countries, will be launched towards Mars, with the objective of giving us more information about the past and present of the red planet.


The concentration of missions around the same date has an explanation: Mars reaches this month its closest position to Earth, something that occurs every 780 days. Missions launched can now reach the planet using less energy, which means less fuel, less weight and less cost. If the launch window, which runs until mid-August, is lost, another similar opportunity will happen in 2022.

Hope, United Arab Emirates

The first mission to take off Hope, developed by the United Arab Emirates. It will depart from the Tanegashima space base in Japan at 5:51 pm (Brasilia time) on board an H-2A rocket developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries under the contract of the Japanese space agency (JAXA)

The goal is to put into orbit a satellite that will study the atmosphere of Mars, generating a map of its climate system over a Martian year, the equivalent of 1.8 terrestrial years. Like Earth, Mars has stations that influence winds, temperature, condensation and ice evaporation, etc.

just the first step in an ambitious program. The country has plans to colonize the planet in the next 100 years, and is already exploring the first plans for building a Martian city.

Illustration of the city that the UAE hopes to build on Mars one day. Photograph:Bjarke Ingels Group

Tianwen-1, China

On July 23 we will have Tianwen-1, the first Chinese mission to Mars. This is the most complex of the three, as it will bring an orbiter (orbiter) with six instruments for observing the planet to the planet, and an exploration vehicle (rover), with six more instruments for climatic, geomagnetic and soil analysis.

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Small-scale model of the Chinese rover that goes to Mars. Photo: Reproduction

It will be the first Chinese mission to Mars, after the failure of the Phobos-Grunt mission (in conjunction with Russia) in 2011. The country, which has already sent two satellites and Moon rovers, wants to establish itself as a space power and has plans to start , in the beginning of 2021, the launch of the first components for the construction of a tripod space station.

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Perseverance, USA

Around July 30 (the exact date has not been set), comes one of the most awaited missions in recent years: Mars 2020, developed by NASA. It will place on the Martian surface a new exploration vehicle, the Perseverance rover, which will look for evidence of past life in an old lake that existed inside what is today the Jezero Crater.

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Illustration of Perseverance on Mars. Photo: Nasa

The rover will bring to the planet a list of 10.9 million names of space enthusiasts, collected on a NASA website, and also a tribute to the health professionals who work in combating the Covid-19 pandemic that plagues the planet.

Also be on board a small helicopter calledIngenuity(Ingenuity), which will carry out a series of short test flights at heights between 3 and 10 meters, and a distance of no more than 300 meters, during a period of 30 days from May 2021. The objective is to validate the concept of a remotely controlled aircraft, which can be explored again in future missions.

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The Ingenuity helicopter, folded and prepared for its journey to Mars. Photo: Nasa

Meanwhile, on Mars …

NASA’s other rover, Curiosity, will soon begin its journey towards a new exploration site, known as the “sulfate-containing unit”. Sulphates are chemical compounds that are only formed in the presence of water, which can give important clues about the Martian past, a time when the planet’s surface contained liquid water and, potentially, conditions for harboring life.

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Panoramic image of Mars, captured by the Curiosity rover. Photo: Nasa

The new location is about 1.6 kilometers (one mile) from the current location of the rover, in the Gale crater. To get there, the vehicle will use its autonomous navigation system to bypass a sandbar, where its wheels could get stuck. If everything goes as expected, Curiosity should arrive at its new “home” around September.

Nasa Mars China space USA space mission spaceship space probe Japan spaceship spaceships Science & Space space exploration space travel UAE

 

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