Located tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth, Mars is generally not much of a concern by its neighbors. Due to their distance and orbits around the sun, the optimal windows of fire to reach the red planet from blue are very low. When an opportunity arises all space agencies want to use it.
This is why in the coming days, less than three matches will come closer to Mars. The Al-Amal study (confidence) sent by the United Arab Emirates is expected to reach its target this Tuesday, February 9th. The Chinese spacecraft Tianwen-1 is expected to arrive the next day, after which the American robot diligently will land on February 18th.
Each of these ships has different goals and ambitions. As for the United Arab Emirates, it is about establishing itself as a space power. Unlike its rivals, al-Amal should not touch Mars, but should be in orbit, although this would be enough to bring the country into the closed club of countries that have reached the Red Planet. So far, only the United States, Europe, the Soviet Union and India have achieved this.
Seven minutes of terror
So China should be sixth on this list, but its spacecraft will not orbit Mars. After observing the planet for a few months, Tianwen-1 will have to “dock” the 250kg robot. If the operation is successful, it will be the second country in history to do so.
The only one that has done so far is America. So NASA wants to repeat its record, but with even greater ambition. The rover of perseverance is bigger than Curiosity, the NASA robot already there. It does over a ton About the size of an SUV.
The Martian atmosphere is not enough for a parachute to cushion such a device. To land, he is a “Sky Crane», A module equipped with rockets that slow down descent. The process has a nickname, indicating that the period of this fall was more than two billion “seven minutes of terrorism”.
Despite the different systems, these three missions have the same goal: to find geographical sites that will allow future missions to recover and then bring Mars back to Earth. And can answer the eternal question of life on Mars.