China’s Mars mission Tianwen-1 wins international space prize

China’s Tianwen 1 Mars mission has won one of the world’s most prestigious awards for spaceflight, combining orbit, landing and roving vehicles in one launch. The Tianwen 1 spacecraft took off from Wenchang Spaceport on July 23, 2020, and entered Mars orbit in February 2021, then landed The solar-powered Zhurong rover successfully launched on the red planet’s Utopia Planitia plain in May of that year.

According to the “space” website, the mission carried out the first-ever historic joint flight of orbiting, landing and roaming vehicles in a single launch, and was awarded the International Astronautical Federation Annual Achievement Award during the 73rd International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Paris.

International Astronautical Federation (IAF) President Pascal Ehrenfreund presented the team responsible for developing the spacecraft in a landmark lecture at this year’s IAC.

Gillian Wang, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST) who launched the spacecraft, gave an overview of the mission and outlined some of the major scientific achievements to date in a notable lecture, including global mapping of the Red Planet and returning data that provides evidence of an ancient Martian ocean. .

Wang also noted visual highlights from the mission, including selfies in Mars orbit and videos about insertion into orbit.

Tianwen 1 continues its extended science missions in the orbit of Mars, but on the surface, the Zhurong rover is currently shutting down to see winter in the northern hemisphere of Mars.

The 530-pound (240-kilogram) solar-powered rover is also currently expected to wake up and resume activities in December or January, when more solar energy reaches Mars, a member of the mission team said during a question-and-answer session.

China is also looking to follow up on its success on Mars with an ambitious mission to collect samples from Mars and deliver them to Earth. The mission is called Tianwen 3 and will include two launches of Long March 5, China’s largest rocket, around 2028 to send a lander and spacecraft to the Red Planet. to conduct the first asteroid sample return mission with Tianwen 2, which will launch around 2025.

And the missions may be open to international cooperation. “We’d like to partner with more space agencies, space companies, universities and all kinds of other entities,” Wang said. “As always, we welcome international partners to join us.”

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