The United States and China are preparing to restart the space race, this time on Mars. Both countries plan to launch new probes to the red planet in July. Space is shaping up to be the new arena for the countries’ growing rivalry.
China Set to Launch Its Mars Probe, Tianwen-1
CNN reports that experts expect China to launch the Tianwen-1 rocket from Hainan Island on Thursday. However, the Chinese government has not confirmed the exact date. Meanwhile, NASA has scheduled the launch of the Perseverance rover on July 30. The two countries expect their probes to land on Mars by February 2021.
Tianwen-1 launches for Mars, marking dawn of Chinese interplanetary explorationhttps://t.co/kP7k0Yl5aL
— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) July 23, 2020
NASA’s Mars Probe Perseverance Has a Mission
Perseverance hopes to get enough data about Mars’ potential to support organic life. The probe seeks possibly habitable regions on the planet’s surface. And by searching for evidence of microbial life, the rover hopes to tell us if we might be able to live there ourselves.
Moreover, the rover can drill on Martian soil to recover rock samples for analysis by another NASA mission.
NASA’s earlier Martian probe, Curiosity, is still sending data from Mars to Earth since its landing in 2012.
China’s Tianwen-1 Has a Mission, Too
China launches its first mission to Mars with Tianwen-1, or “Quest for Heavenly Truth.” Once there, Tianwen will orbit the planet before releasing a rover on the Martian surface. The probe would collect soil and rock samples. It would also analyze the Martian air, and then check if the planet has water.
With this rivalry heating up, maybe we can expect either country to try landing a man on Mars soon enough.