What to expect after China’s Mars orbiter enters remote sensing orbit

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China’s Tianwen-1 Mars orbiter will conduct a global scientific exploration of Mars for about a year in the remote sensing orbit it entered on Monday, Zhu Xinbo, deputy chief designer of the Mars Orbiter, said in a statement. interview with China Media Group.

The orbiter, designed to orbit Mars for about two years, has been operating since entering orbit from Mars in February, Zhu said.

Armed with seven scientific payloads, the orbiter will probe the topography, mineral composition and magnetic field of Mars to gain more first-hand data.

“With these payloads, we can get data on the magnetic field, topography and even the underground structure of Mars,” Zhu said.

Most science payloads started their exploration work earlier. Before the Martian rover landed, for example, high- and medium-resolution cameras took images of the landing zone in preparation for landing.

After the orbit change this time, the underground radar will start working.

“When deployed, the underground radar will have four antennas – measuring five meters in length – which will transmit and receive electromagnetic waves, and detect the underground structure of Mars, such as the distribution of water ice,” Zhu said.

To get global data on Mars, the orbiter must take full images and observations of the red planet, which requires adjustments to the orbiter’s orbit.

After entering remote sensing orbit, the orbiter will move between the north and south poles of Mars and perform sensing at the perigee of the planet where observing conditions are best, Zhu said.

The orbiter will continue to relay communication between the Mars rover and Earth in the new orbit.

It is estimated that preliminary global data from Mars will be available by June 2022, laying the groundwork for future Mars sampling missions, Zhu said.

He added that after completing the remote sensing exploration, new tasks will be designed for the orbiter.


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