What is the Tianwen-1? 

So, I think some of you by now have heard about the new Mars Rovers landing on Mars, like the perseverance project. But have you heard about the Tianwen-1? The Tianwen-1 is China’s first Mars mission, consisting of a lander, an orbiter and rover. It was developed by CASC and managed by NSSC in Beijing. It entered Mars orbit on February 10th, 2021, and landed on the May 14th. So far only the USA's space agency NASA has successfully landed and operated on Mars, so if China's  Tianwen-1 succeeds it will be the only other country to successfully operate on Mars.  



  • -Investigate the surface soil characteristics and water ice distribution 

  • -Map morphology and geological structure 

  • -Measure the ionosphere and the characteristics of the Martian climate 

  • -Analyse surface material 



The United States has managed to orbit land and release in separate missions, but the Tianwen-1 is doing all that at once. China has experience with the Moon which doesn’t have an atmosphere and half the surface gravity as Mars. If the landing is too shallow the Tianwen-1 will just bounce off further into space, and if the landing is too steep it will burn up before it can reach Martian land. They must get the angle right for it to be a success. 


The Landing Process 


The Tianwen-1 free dives for about five minutes in Mars atmosphere which slows it down from 4.8km/s to 460m/s. They then put a up a parachute to slow it down to 100m/s. Even then it is still too fast for a safe landing, so they activate a rocket at the bottom of Tian Wen-1 for a better and smoother landing. This takes about 7 minutes, and the orbiter lets go during the free dive. 


What happens on the planet? 


If the landing is a success the rover will let out solar panels in a shape like butterfly wings and go down a ramp onto Martian land. It will look around for 3 months, it would use the orbiter as a way to communicate with controllers on Earth. The orbiter will survey the red planet for 23 months (about 2 years), which maps out the surface and characterise the geological structure looking for water and ice. The rover will look at soil composition and look for underground water, it also needs to collect atmospheric data to document climate change. 




Morphology- study of the form of things 

Ionosphere- a part of the atmosphere which is made of electrically charged gas particles 

Composition- the way in which a whole or mixture is made up