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China Launches 1st Rover Mission To Mars

Beijing: China on Thursday launched its first rover mission to Mars. The six-wheeled robot, encapsulated in a protective probe, was lifted by a Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island at 12.40 a.m., the BBC reported.

It should arrive in orbit around the Red Planet in February.

Called Tianwen-1, or “Questions to Heaven”, the rover won’t actually try to land on the surface for a further two to three months.

This wait-and-see strategy will allow engineers to assess the atmospheric conditions on Mars before attempting what will be a hazardous descent.

Tianwen-1 is one of three missions setting off to Mars in the space of 11 days.

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Thursday’s development comes after the United Arab Emirates on Monday launched its Hope satellite towards the Red Planet.

Also in a week, NASA aims to despatch its next-generation rover, Perseverance.

So far, only the Americans have managed to run long-lived operations on Mars.

(IANS)

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