China’s first Mars exploration mission Tianwen-1 is currently more than 100 million km away from Earth and is operating normally, the country’s space agency said on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Martian spacecraft flew into space for 144 days and traveled more than 360 million km. It was more than 100 million km away from Earth and about 12 million km away from Mars, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
The Mars probe is likely to be about 190 million km away from Earth when it reaches the vicinity of Mars.
It will make several in-orbit corrections and is likely to slow down to enter the Martian orbit in mid-February next year, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing CNSA.
The Chinese Mars survey called Tianwen-1, or Search for Celestial Truth 1, will accomplish three scientific goals – orbiting the red planet for extensive observation, landing on Martian earth, and sending a reconnaissance vehicle to wander the landing site.
It will conduct scientific research on the planet’s soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere and water.
China in recent years has emerged as a major space power with human space missions and a landing spacecraft on the dark side of the moon. It is currently building its own space station.
Chang’e 5, the third Chinese spacecraft to land on the moon, is the newest in a series of increasingly ambitious missions for the peaceful space program.
China’s previous attempt to send an investigative probe to Mars called Yinghuo-1, in a Russian spacecraft in 2011 failed, because shortly after launch it was declared lost and then burned during re-entry.
The United States, Russia, India and the EU have managed to send missions to Mars as the most complex space mission.
India became the first Asian country to successfully launch its Mars orbiting mission Mangalyaan, which entered the orbit of the red planet in 2014.
India also became the first country to enter the sea orbit in its first attempt.