"A powerful Long March 5 rocket blasted off Thursday carrying a Chinese orbiter, lander and rover on a seven-month voyage to Mars, the second of three high-stakes missions to the red planet and one that, if successful, will put China on the front lines of interplanetary exploration.
China did not announce the launch date or time in advance, but a notice to mariners warned of an impending flight and sure enough, the Long March 5 roared to life and streaked away from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island southwest of Hong Kong at 12:41 a.m. EDT (12:41 p.m. local time)." CBS News
"The orbiter is equipped with seven instruments, including high- and medium-resolution cameras; a ground-penetrating radar; a mineralogy spectrometer; a magnetometer; and two charged particle detectors. Its planned orbit around the Martian poles will carry it within about 165 miles of the surface and as far away as 7,450 miles.
After mapping the world below for several months, the orbiter will release a landing craft that will descend to a rocket-powered touchdown on a broad, 2,000-mile-wide plain known as Utopia Planitia, the same general region where NASA's Viking 1 lander touched down in 1976." CBS News
"The 530-pound six-wheel rover will ride down atop the lander and then roll off extendable ramps to the surface. The rover is equipped with six instruments, including a multi-spectral camera, a terrain camera, a ground-penetrating radar, magnetic field detector, meteorology sensors and others.
The rover is designed to receive commands and beam back data to Earth using the Tianwen-1 orbiter as a relay station.
"A successful landing would put China among elite company," Mason Peck, an aerospace engineer at Cornell University, told the journal Science." CBS News
The scale of this mission and its complexity really are a "Long March." If the Chinese can make all these functions work they will deserve to be thought of as a serious competitor for the US in space exploration. I wish them luck. pl